In October of 2015, after a legislative tour of evidence rooms filled with untested sexual assault kits, media coverage on the issue, and news coming from other states regarding unsubmitted rape kits, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs polled their members on the number of unprocessed and unsubmitted rape kits in their custody. Approximately 6,000 rape kits were identified as untested in Washington State.
The Washington State Attorney General’s Office has now completed a more comprehensive audit. The Attorney General’s Office received inventory information from 208 law enforcement agencies as of October 3, 2018. The total number of untested rape kits identified in Washington State is 6,460.
The combined legislative measures first enacted in 2015, and spearheaded by Washington State Representative Tina Orwall, will establish a coordinated, statewide effort that moves towards the creation and implementation of a victim-centered, trauma informed reform program.
Wayne County Michigan prosecutor Kym Worthy has explained: “Testing is the first step in bringing justice to long neglected victims. The next important steps are investigation and prosecution. People should be aware that these kits contain valuable evidence that can assist law enforcement in preventing future rapes, robberies, home invasions and even homicides.”
The mandatory testing of all kits is vital for investigative purposes regardless of whether the statute of limitations has passed for prosecuting individual rape cases. Moreover, the mandatory testing of all kits is a critical tool for identifying serial rapists across state lines.
Washington State is now in a unique position regarding the public safety imperative of its statewide rape kit reform campaign. The combined effect of the Washington State Rape Kit Reform Campaign’s legislative measures represents the potential to establish DNA matches and identify an untold number of serial rapists leading to an untold potential for indictments and prosecutions.
Every untested rape kit represents a survivor seeking justice and healing. Please stand with survivors and help ensure equal access to justice for all survivors.
The Washington State Rape Kit Reform Campaign is sponsored by Unite Against Rape and is now accepting donations to eliminate Washington State’s rape kit backlog.
All donations will be transferred to and managed by the Washington State Department of Commerce.