New Detroit Programs Revolutionizes Rape Kit Testing

Forensics programs across the country deal with massive backlogs of untested rape kits on a regular basis. The city of Detroit was found to have a massive deficit of nearly 8,700 kits with some dating back over 30 years. However, the city of Detroit has now cleared that backlog, leading to several arrests, as a result of a new program formed with the state police, Michigan State University researchers, and a variety of nursing and victim advocacy groups.

According to the U.S. Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice, a combination of negative police attitudes towards rape, limited resources, and generalizations about the victims of sexual assault, has led to an epidemic across the country of untested and untried rape cases.

The coalition in Detroit raised money to help provide additional resources and staff to clear the backlog. This has led the Justice Department to believe Detroit’s program could be used as an example across the nation.

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The Detroit coalition has developed training programs centered on victim treatment that will help to address attitudes towards victims reporting sexual assault to the police. They have also raised money that will help to provide additional funds and support for crime scene investigators as they work these cases.

Programs like these have helped to dig the city of Detroit out of their massive backlog and have resulted in identifying 127 different serial sexual assaults. 87 rapists were identified and 10 convictions made so far.

However, changes in attitude and funding won’t mean much without systemic change. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has done more than just provide additional funding. Snyder signed laws last year that will require police to obtain rape kits within two weeks of notification and to have the kits analyzed within 90 days. Changes like these have made an undeniable impact in the city of Detroit, and the results will make jurisdictions across the country take notice.

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