Progress is made in processing evidence of sexual assault.
Across the United States, a reported rape is often followed by exams to collect evidence, known as rape kits. Instead of contributing to justice, however, those kits have too often been shelved indefinitely, leaving people who have committed multiple rapes unprosecuted.
- In August 2017, the National Institute of Justice released National Best Practices for Sexual Assault Kits, which provides guidance on addressing the backlog and delivering trauma-informed justice for sexual assault victims, including those from underserved populations.
- The Joyful Heart Foundation’s national policy campaign “End the Backlog,” which aims to enact rape kit reform in every state, has tracked legislative efforts toward rape kit reform in 2017 and estimates that 73 rape kit reform bills were introduced in 33 states; of these efforts, so far 14 laws have been enacted in 12 states and nonbinding resolutions have been passed in four.
- Congress passed the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act of 2017, which, among other provisions, reauthorized the SAFER Act of 2013. This act extends efforts to eliminate the national rape kit backlog and purports to create a timeline for processing kits. President Trump signed the act into law on January 8, 2018.