New National Initiative on Rape Kits

Testing of rape kit data sometimes takes months, even years.
Testing of rape kit data sometimes takes months, even years.

by Laura Strickler, CBS News Investigates

Almost a year ago, CBS News broadcast a two part series on a five month investigation into tens of thousands of untested rape kits nationwide.

Today, the White House announced a new initiative aimed at ending the rape kit backlog:

From the White House statement:

"Reducing the backlog of rape kits can be a powerful way to get rapists off the streets. Today, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is launching a new effort to identify long term solutions to the DNA backlog of sexual assault cases. In up to 5 jurisdictions, the project will team researchers with law enforcement agencies, crime labs, prosecutors, and victim advocates. The teams will identify underlying causes of the backlog, create new systems for tracking, screening and testing DNA evidence, and apply strategies to prevent backlogs from developing in the future. As a result of this project, NIJ aims to eliminate backlogs and develop innovative practices that can be adapted nationwide. "

The Obama Administration made this announcement along with other new efforts aimed at addressing violence against women.

Sarah Tofte from actress Mariska Hargitay's Joyful Heart Foundation reacted to the White House announcement: "The NIJ rape kit backlog pilot project will allow us, for the first time, to give grantee jurisdictions the comprehensive federal help they want and need to fix their backlogs."

Joyful Heart also recently launched a new website called "End the Backlog" to monitor the rape kit backlog issue nationwide.

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