Over the summer and early fall, the Indiana State Police and the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council conducted an exhaustive inventory of the state’s untested rape kits. The inventory was commissioned last spring after lawmakers passed Senate Resolution 55, requiring Indiana police forces to audit the untested rape kits in their jurisdictions. The statewide investigation discovered that there are over 2,500 viable rape kits that have not been processed by the authorities.
A rape kit is a type of forensic exam used to gather DNA evidence from a sexual assault. Authorities can test the evidence from the kit in order to discover potential DNA samples left behind by the assailant. If the sexual assault is prosecuted and goes to trial, the findings of a rape kit may serve as crucial evidence. Over the years, however, some police forces have declined to test these kits—meaning that numerous rapists have potentially gone unprosecuted.
The audits included data from 91 of Indiana’s 92 counties, revealing that over 5,000 rape kits were not tested by authorities. Of these, approximately 2,500 are viable for testing. The investigation concluded that 416 of these kits were from victims who did not wish to pursue charges, 1,669 were labeled false reports and 751 were from sexual assault cases that had already gone to trial.
Though 2017 is a non-budget year, state lawmakers say that they intend to push for legislation to address possible issues that led to the massive backlog. The Indiana Senate will likely not provide funding to test the kits, but will encourage local police forces to seek funding from grants for testing. It typically costs between $750 and $1,250 to test each rape kit.