State Legislators Tackle Rape Kit Problem

Natasha Alexenko and Helena Lazaro of Natasha's Justice Project host a booth at the National Conference of State Legislatures

(August 25, 2015) --- Lawmakers from every state came together this month to talk policy, and high on their agenda was the national problem of untested DNA evidence from unsolved rape cases. “Dozens of legislators said that they recognize that their state may have a backlog problem, and they are determined to fix it,” said Becca O’Connor, RAINN’s vice president for public policy. O’Connor joined the political leaders at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Seattle.

Nearly 20 states have moved forward, in recent months, with a statewide accounting of unsubmitted and untested rape kits. Nine of those states have also established rape kit testing requirements, such as mandating that kits be sent to a lab within weeks of collection. A number of states also voted to require victim notification rights, tracking of rape kits from the point of collection, and annual reports of progress.

RAINN was joined at NCSL by Natasha Alexenko and Helena Lazaro of Natasha's Justice Project. RAINN and NJP are partners in the Rape Kit Action Project, along with the Joyful Heart Foundation and the National Center for Victims of Crime.

“Our message is a straightforward one,” said O’Connor. “If your state hasn’t yet joined the national trend and conducted an inventory of its unsubmitted, untested rape kits, the time to do so is now. Perhaps most rewarding were our encounters with lawmakers who took action after meeting us at NCSL last year – they were proud to have been part of their state’s solution-based efforts and were eager to encourage fellow state lawmakers to follow suit,” O’Connor added.

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Learn more about state efforts to pass rape kit accountability laws.

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