Actress Exposes Justice Department’s Rape Kit Backlog
When I first heard that there was a massive rape kit backlog, I was honestly confused. Putting all the words together and the sentence was clear and defined in its message. But did it really mean what it proposes to mean?
I’m a guy. I figured there must be some confusion.
I was wrong. There is apparently, and sadly, a rape kit backlog.
Mariska Hargitay plays Lieutenant Olivia Benson on NBC’s crime drama, NYPD Special Victims Unit Detective. And via her fictional character often fighting for rape victim’s justice, she’s oddly become a real life activist in the world of untested rape kits.
Here she is speaking in Detroit regarding the matter. Detroit has been terribly harmed by the matter for many years.
Rape Kit Backlog – What Does It Mean?
Rape kits are typically used to extract physical evidence from a woman who is claiming that she was raped. But the problem is, the rape kits are often left collecting dust in a crime lab’s storage room.
Rape kits are key evidence. They contain DNA evidence which could be used to locate a rapist or even connect other rape victims via their attacker.
Why Aren’t Rape Kits Tested?
The rape kit backlog comes from a couple of instances.
The first situation occurs after a rape kit is submitted as evidence. Sometimes, a District Attorney or an investigator never make the official request to test the rape kit. And so it sits in storage, useless to the victim.
The other instance occurs when rape kits are awaiting DNA testing. Often times, the testing doesn’t occur in a time sensitive manner. The term “backlogged” was given by The Joyful Heart Foundation. If a rape kit isn’t tested within 30 days, they consider it a rape kit backlog situation.
Rape Kit Backlog – Test Them
These kits need to be tested. I’d say the reasons for that are mutually obvious between myself and you, the reader.
Look at these numbers from the city of Detroit, where Hargitay was speaking in the video above.
That’s 11,341 untested rape kits. The DNA could link thousands of rapist to their crimes, yet they sit in file cabinets wasting away.
In 2015, the Bureau of Justice Assistance U. S. Department of Justice allotted just under $2 million dollars to fund the testing of these rape kits.
Now the group, End The Backlog is putting this issue in the public’s eye.
Hargitay has produced a new HBO documentary called, I Am Evidence, which will bring even more awareness to the 175,000 untested rape kits.
The rape kit backlog is a sad, insulting and secondary crime against the victims. It’s mismanaged evidence by those in positions of authority and it needs to end. This new documentary by Hargitay and some additional awareness will go a long way into helping resolve this matter.