According to national statistics, a person is sexually assaulted every two minutes in this country. In a sexual assault investigation, law enforcement will often process a rape kit from the alleged victim. A rape kit includes the evidence that is collected, such as DNA, hair, and fibers. In order to collect these items, a rape victim usually undergoes a physical examination by a doctor or nurse, who collects the evidence and places them in the kit. Items typically found in a rape kit include:
- Instructions for collecting;
- Forms for documenting the procedure;
- Large sheet of paper for the victim to stand on while getting undressed;
- Paper bags for clothing and any other evidence collected;
- Tubes for blood and urine specimens;
- Swabs used to collect DNA;
- Glass slides for collecting specimens;
- Sterile saline and water;
- Dental floss and wooden sticks for collecting DNA; and
- Boxes, envelopes, and labels for collected evidence during specific stages of exam.
There is currently a nationwide – and statewide – outrage over the backlog of untested rape kits that currently exist. National figures place the estimated number at around 400,000 untested kits. According to reports, some backlogged rape kits go back to 1979.
This backlog not only leaves thousands of rape victims in limbo, knowing their attacker has not been prosecuted or punished for the crime, but it also leaves thousands of innocent people who have been falsely put under suspicion in a position of uncertainty as well.
Illinois has taken some steps to clear up the backlog within its borders. In 2010, a new law was passed that required all newly-collected rape kits to be sent for testing within 10 days and that analysis of that evidence needed to take place within six months of collection “if sufficient staffing and resources are available.”
Although the new law brought an almost 50 percent increase in testing submittal for new rape kits, it did not provide any resources for law enforcement agencies, and there are many deadlines which have been missed. As of March of this year, there were still just over 2,000 rape kits which had not been processed.
There are two bills currently pending in the Illinois legislature which if passed, aim to cut the backlog completely. The first, SB 2221, would amend the Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Act to implement oversight over local law enforcement agencies to make sure they are complying with the law. State police would be required to notify the state’s attorney’s office of any positive DNA matches on sexual assault evidence which are submitted by local police. The state’s attorneys would also be able to check on local police to make sure they are following through with all sexual assault investigations.
The second bill, SB 3096, known as the Sexual Assault Incident Procedure Act, require all law enforcement agencies to develop, adopt, and implement written policies regarding incidents of sexual assault.
Qualified Legal Representation
If you have been charged with sexual assault, contact an experienced Wheaton criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Salvatore C. Miglore & Associates at 630-933-8400 today for a free consultation.