80 percent of rape kits go untested in Illinois

Human Rights Watch continues on their mission to uncover the pathetic rape kit testing rates through out the United States. You remember their report last year about the 13,000 untested rape kits in L.A., right? Depressingly, despite a lot of talk by the mayor and police department, little has changed there (the whole city is in budget meltdown). Well, HRW set their sights statewide in Illinois, collecting comprehensive data from 127 of 267 jurisdictions and found that only 1,474 of the 7,494 rape kits booked into evidence since 1995 could be confirmed as tested.
It’s all in their new 51-page report, “‘I Used to Think the Law Would Protect Me': Illinois’s Failure to Test Rape Kits.” Sarah Tofte, badass author of the report says:

Illinois’s failure to test DNA evidence is not only an insult to rape victims – it puts all women at risk by leaving rapists who could be identified at large, some of whom may attack again. The data suggests that Illinois law enforcement just doesn’t see rape as a serious crime that’s worthy of time and resources.

Pissed off? Yeah, I thought so. Well, there’s actually some direct action we can take here. The 2010 Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Act (thank you Attorney General Lisa Madigan!), which passed the state legislature this spring, would make Illinois the first state in the nation to require that every rape kit booked into evidence by law enforcement is sent to the crime lab for testing within 10 days of its collection.
BUT, and this is a really big BUT, it (a) hasn’t been signed by Governor Pat Quinn and (b) includes a provision that testing of every kit within the time frame specified will only occur “if sufficient staffing and resources are available.”
You know what to do. Contact Gov. Quinn and let him know that women deserve justice. And while you’re at it, let Attorney General Lisa Madigan know that she’s supremely appreciated.

Join the Conversation

  • CTD

    The vast majority of rape kits provide no useful or relevant information with regard to criminal investigations or prosecutions. In almost all cases, the identity of the attacker is known, and in most, sexual contact of some sort is not disputed. Still others are never tested because the victim stops cooperating and the case cannot move forward.
    While I’m sure some that need tested do fall through the cracks, mandating that ALL of them MUST be (and in a very short time frame) strikes me as a huge waste of resources that will produce relatively little actionable information.

  • Not Guilty

    Why should the prosecution of a rapist be reliant upon the victim? Take the initial complaint, test the kit and if his DNA is there and you can identify him, arrest him and continue on. It is a public service to all the women who haven’t yet been raped to get rapists of the streets. While most rapes are acquaintance rapes, those men likely have a lot of female acquaintances that they could rape. The longer they get away with it, the bolder they are likely to become. “Cost” is a pathetic cop-out.

  • CTD

    Why should the prosecution of a rapist be reliant upon the victim?
    Because without a victim willing to cooperate, in our system of justice, it’s virtually impossible to prove a crime was committed in such as case.
    A rape kit would only prove that the suspect and the victim had sex. If the victim is unwilling to be a witness against him in court, as far as the law is concerned, there’s nothing to base a prosecution on.

  • hellotwin

    Actually, they do, that’s why survivors are often advised to get a rape kit done if they may want to press charges. DNA evidence is generally more convincing than a “he said, she said” kind of situation, and they’re helpful if the survivor later decides to take legal action.

  • Spyhop

    “includes a provision that testing of every kit within the time frame specified will only occur “if sufficient staffing and resources are available.”
    As an Illinois resident I can tell you that this provision pretty much ensures that nothing will happen even if the bill passes. The Illinois government is in total financial meltdown. It’s stopped paying money to the public universities and to state pensions and to tons of places that provide public services. It’s in so much debt that I don’t really see additional staffing and resources being available in the foreseeable future.

  • Mike Crichton

    Not necessarily, there might be other witnesses, or physical evidence like injuries to the victim. But your point is a good one.