Applaud Program to End Backlog of Untested Rape Kits


Target: New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

Goal: Praise initiative to give victims closure by analyzing backlogged rape kits

According to the Joyful Heart Foundation (JHF), government experts have estimated that the number of backlogged rape kits nationwide is a few hundred thousand, at least. It’s difficult to gather information on the subject, as only three states require law enforcement agencies to track and test all their untested kits. The JHF defines a backlogged kit as a rape kit that has not been sent to an accredited lab within 10 days of being booked at a police station, or a rape kit that has gone untested for more than 30 days after being received by a lab. Even a month is too long for potentially hundreds of thousands of survivors to wait for the results of their rape test, and many may have to wait much longer. For this reason New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. recently announced that his office would be providing up to $35 million in grant money for jurisdictions to count, track, and analyze their backlogged rape test kits.

The JHF is partnering with the New York County DA Office to advise on the administration of the grant money. JHF representatives have expressed the organization’s optimism about this project, saying it may help provide funds for many local governments that are interested in clearing their backlogged kits but lack the resources to do so. JHF founder and president Mariska Hargitay spoke at the press conference announcing the initiative, calling it “a powerful complement to a $41 million proposed federal budget measure to fund the work cities and states need to do once they have their rape kit testing results back.”

Ending the backlog of untested rape kits would send the message to attackers and survivors alike that these crimes will be taken seriously. Thank District Attorney Cyrus Vance for helping to make the end of the backlog possible.


Dear District Attorney Vance,

I am delighted about your announcement of the District Attorney Office’s partnership with the Joyful Heart Foundation to fund the analysis of untested rape kits. Grant programs like yours may be able to give survivors some hope that their cases might have a chance of bringing their attacker to justice. Plus, if paired with related programs to fund investigative work to follow up on the results of these kits, these kinds of programs could be incredibly effective in bringing real sense of peace and safety to survivors of sexual assault.

Thank you for advocating for survivors by committing to fund the tracking and analysis of untested rape kits. Thank you for refusing to accept the shocking number of cases in which a survivor has gone through the process of submitting a rape kit only to have their test waiting in storage for months, while their attacker continues to endanger them and others. I hope that other offices are inspired by the example of the New York County DA Office to visualize their own programs for ending the backlog of rape kits.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: ConstructorGrp via Wikimedia Commons

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