As we discussed in a past blog post, Indiana has approximately 5,000 untested rape kits in its backlog. This staggering figure makes the state’s backlog the 10th largest in the nation. This may change, however, if a newly-authored piece of legislation makes it through the state senate.
Senate Bill 264 would take the first steps in locating funding to test the kits and informing victims on the status of their cases. The bill has two major components: First, it would require the authorities that are responsible for handling sexual assault to investigate potential sources of funding to test the backlog. The bill would also mandate state’s sexual assault response team investigate the feasibility of a system for notifying assault victims of their kits’ status.
When a victim goes to the hospital following a sexual assault, staff members often complete a rigorous medical exam to collect potential evidence. The evidence from these exams is collected in a rape kit and given to law enforcement. These kits can preserve DNA evidence that is crucial for prosecuting sexual predators. Although the kits could help put away hundreds of assailants, law enforcement often lacks the time, manpower and money to examine every one. As the backlog grows ever larger, more victims are left in the dark about the status of their cases.
If the bill is successful, it could mean that Indiana is one step closer to ending its rape kit backlog. Senate Bill 264 has received support from the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault, a nonprofit that educates Hoosiers about sexual assault. The author of the legislation, State Senator Michael Crider (R-Greenfield), stated that he hopes the bill will provide sexual assault survivors with peace of mind.