How I Changed my Mind on Rape Kit Testing

I've been both witness to and participant in the local and national story unfolding about the untested sexual assault evidence kits, otherwise known as rape kits. Given this, I was not surprised when Representative Tina Orwall first began talking in December about crafting new legislation to be introduced in the current session.

My first reaction was, good (!), but there are a lot of other issues in the criminal justice system when it comes to addressing sexual assault cases that need more attention than untested rape kits. If we really want to make the criminal justice system responsive to victims of sexual assault it is imperative that we address a number of things: the language used to describe sexual assaults, the victim blaming attitudes that continue to exist, and the lengthy waiting times for decisions to be made about charging the assailant and going to trial. On a national scale, the discrepancy between the number of sexual assaults reported and the number that result in a conviction is staggering.

 

Rape kits are only the tip of the legal iceberg. Kits are a piece of the evidence, like fingerprints at a crime scene. They also have the possibility of capturing other information about the crime, such as injuries, or whether the victim was drugged.

But as I thought about it, kits are more than “just piece of evidence.”

Rape kits require a victim to come forward and go through a collection procedure that is lengthy and intensely personal. We are fortunate to have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners in many area hospitals who make this process as compassionate and informed as possible. Still, we ask victims to go through this process when they report.

And it’s this important step that victims are asked to take that makes me fully support Rep. Orwall's legislation to test all kits going forward.

I believe testing all rape kits will do the following:

·         Send a clear message to victims of sexual assault that reporting matters.

·         Remove the possibility of biases in law enforcement about whether a victim is "credible enough" to warrant a kit being tested.

·         Make use of research identifying the fact that some rapists, who are acquaintances of the victim, are also serial rapists, raping several victims in the same manner.  http://www.davidlisak.com/wp-content/uploads/pdf/RepeatRapeinUndetectedRapists.pdf Having this key information in a national database (Combined DNA Index System CODIS) could result in identifying and possibly convicting more sex offenders.

 

I know that testing all kits is not going solve each one of the entrenched problems in our legal system.  But this is a good start and importantly, Rep. Orwall's legislation calls for a task force to recommend how the legal process can be more responsive to victims.

 I extend my kudos to Representative Tina Orwall for her leadership and for Seattle Police Department’s Chief Kathleen O’Toole for making the right decision.

And to victims whose kits are languishing untested in an evidence room… reporting matters. I think their actions demonstrate that Rep. Orwall and Chief O'Toole believe that as well.

 

Interested in some background information on how Seattle Police Department came to the decision to test all rape kits. Click here for some of the news coverage surrounding this issue.

Comments

Rape

I have being rape numeral times by gangstalker using mind controlling device
I have gone to the police in this matter in federal way turn the kit and nothing has being done. Can you help me?

Call our 24-Hour Resource Line: 888.99.VOICE

Our advocates can help. Call our 24-Hour Resource Line at 888.99.VOICE to speak to somebody at any time, day or night. You can also call our office number at 425.226.5062 and ask for "Intake."

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