INJUSTICE

Do Rape Kits Go Untested?

A rather stunning finding from Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times: Rape kits often take months to process after the crime occurs. The terrible injustice does not begin and end with the incident, and when a rape kit is assembled, the victim goes through a "grueling and invasive process" that takes as long as six hours. Once put together, the data is a useful tool in catching the perpetrator. So why do authorities take as long as six months to process the rape kit? And why are there so many kits that sit around unprocessed? In Los Angeles alone, 12,669 rape kits—some more than 10 years old—are untouched. Oftentimes, the data yields "cold hits" or matches with DNA from other cases. Advocates point out that law enforcement's lackadaisical attitude about rape stems from the ongoing notion that the crime is partially the victim's fault and the high cost ($1,500) of the test. As Nicholas Kristof writes, this is something "we might expect in Afghanistan, not the United States."