Why Thousands Of Rape Kits Are Going Untested

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More than 70,000 untested rape kits in more than 1,000 police departments across the country. We’ll ask why.

Thousands of rape kits across the country are going untested., according to a new investigation from USA Today Media. (Lonnie Timmons III/The Plain Dealer via NPR)
Thousands of rape kits across the country are going untested., according to a new investigation from USA Today Media. (Lonnie Timmons III/The Plain Dealer via NPR)

The experience of rape is harrowing enough. Then, after the sexual assault, comes the collection of physical evidence. From, most often, a woman’s body. Another trauma, in its way.  The “rape kit.”  Women do it because it gathers DNA evidence and more. It’s not fun, but they do it in the hope that an attacker will be caught. Taken off the streets. Except for this: much of that collected evidence is never ever analyzed. A new USA Today report finds 70,000 untested rape kits at just a fraction of America’s police departments. This hour On Point: evidence of rape, warehoused and ignored.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Steve Reilly, investigative reporter at USA Today. (@BySteveReilly)

Kate Snow, national correspondent for NBC News. (@TVKateSnow)

Rebecca Campbell, professor of community psychology at Michigan State University, where she focuses on the ways legal and medical systems respond to sexual assault.

Trent Crump, Phoenix Police Department spokesman. (@sgtcrump)

From Tom's Reading List

NBC News: Why Haven't 7,000 Rape Kits Been Tested? — "Documents uncovered more than 70,000 neglected forensic evidence kits amassed by more than 1,000 police agencies. That's just a fraction of the nation's 18,000 police departments, so the total number of untested kits is likely far higher. Thirty-four states haven't even counted how many untested kits are sitting on shelves, and the Justice Department has not established federal guidelines on how to handle sex-crimes evidence to comply with a law passed by Congress in 2013."

USA Today: State, Local Officials Reviewing Or Changing Policies On Rape Kit Testing — "The state and local reviews, in light of USA TODAY Media Network reports, follow years of work from national groups that advocate for sexual-assault survivors and urge Congress address the nation's backlog of untested sexual assault kits, which may number in the hundreds of thousands across the nation's 18,000 police agencies."

RAINN: What Is A Rape Kit? — An explanation from RAINN, the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization.

This program aired on July 23, 2015.


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