05.

Beyond the Backlog

We believe that the lack of equitable access to sexual assault examination kits and the delay in evidence testing is unjust.
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DEMANDING FAIR PROTECTIONS

SUMMARY

The sexual assault kit backlog has become a point of national discussion as thousands of kits yearly are untested, lost, or deprioritized. The delay of evidence translates into a delay–or outright denial–of justice. Accurate collection and testing of forensic evidence of sexual assault kits can significantly impact case outcomes, with prosecution becoming 2-9 times more likely and increasing the overall chance of conviction by 20%. There have been several efforts to create budgets for increased testing, however, the current efforts do not address the issues within the testing system itself. There are issues with the current sexual assault kit collection system that amount to unequal treatment under the law (a violation of the 14th amendment): 

 

  • Cost of the kit is often wholly or partially out of pocket

  • Collection is often performed by medical professionals untrained in evidence collection, leading to issues with the evidence being admissible in the courtroom

  • There is currently no kit for persons assigned male at birth

 

These 3 issues with our current system amount to violations of constitutional rights and contribute to additional assaults committed by serial perpetrators who could have been caught and prosecuted for their crimes. Senator Murray introduced the Survivors Access to Supportive Care Act (S.926) to address issues with sexual assault. However, it does not go far enough to address economic and gender inequity within the sexual assault kit collection process to provide comprehensive access to all victims under the law. Providing compensation to victims for kits, prioritizing research and development for kits for all genders, and improving collection and testing standards via training are the current priorities we will advocate Senator Murray and other cosponsors add to the S.926 bill.  

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