California launches site to track results of rape kits after police backlogs
The California Department of Justice is creating a new website that will allow law enforcement to track the results of rape kits after the backlog of untested rape kits had been growing for years.
“After the backlog of untested rape kits has been reduced by a third, we will be able to provide meaningful results to victims and survivors to help them to understand and understand why some kits have not been tested, and to help them to better plan for the future,” said Deputy Attorney General John T. Ryan.
Until now, the state has provided updates on the number of rape kits that remain untested to victims of sexual assault who want more information. But the department also has been limited in its ability to provide information on the location of the kits.
The new website, rapekitinfo.cal.gov, will allow the state to locate and update the status of rape kits across the state. It is being developed to address a growing backlog that includes about 1,300 kits from California’s 33 counties.
The state is working with the University of California Los Angeles’ Harrisburg Institute for Public Policy, which is leading the effort.
“This is definitely a way to put in place a measure that will take effect this upcoming year,” said Thomas McGovern, the Harrisburg institute’s director. “It’s another aspect of the state going into a better quality in the way it will share information.”
California’s backlog of untested rape kits will be reviewed in a second phase of the site’s development by the beginning of the year. After that phase, the state is planning to open the site to the general public by the summer of 2012.
“We’re very excited about this,” Ryan said. “It will allow law enforcement to track and locate rape kits across the state. It will provide the data they need to better understand the reasons for the backlog and to plan for the future so that these rapists can no longer rape.”
The site has been in development for six months, McGovern said. The initial phase, which was opened on June 30, contains a dashboard containing the numbers for the year. The second phase will be released starting December 1, and will track the results of the first three months the new website has been up and running.
The new site shows the untested rape kits by location along with the number of kits received each week, and where the kits were sent after they came in