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.