State of the Debate

Local problem. State solution? ...

First Published      Last Updated Jul 07 2014 04:58 pm

Detailed update on the problem of investigating reported rapes in Salt Lake County.

Rape trauma: Why cops may think victims are lying — Christopher Smart | The Salt Lake Tribune

" ... Rape-kit controversy » Rape investigations in Salt Lake City grabbed headlines in April when it came to light that hundreds of rape kits — forensic evidence that may include DNA — had been shelved by the police department without processing. Among the reasons for the backlog: Victims declined to go forward with prosecution.

"The phenomenon is not unique to Salt Lake City and, in fact, is common across the country, according to victim advocates and law-enforcement officials. ...

" ... After the contentious council meeting, the chief initiated the 'Code R Project' in which Salt Lake City cases are posted online to explain why rape kits had not been sent to the state crime lab. The cases list no names or real case numbers to protect victims. ..."

Washington Post op-ed from state and local prosecutors in Ohio about a new solution to the same problem.

Basically, the state takes on the cost.

How Ohio broke through rape kit backlog — Mike DeWine and Timothy J. McGinty | For The Washington Post

" ... Numerous reports from across the country indicate that many thousands of unprocessed 'rape kits,' which are used to collect and store DNA evidence in sexual assault cases, have been sitting on shelves for years and sometimes decades. They have lingered there for a variety of reasons, including charges never being brought, the expense of testing the evidence, the limits of DNA technology when the samples were gathered and, most inexcusable, simple bureaucratic neglect.

"That used to be true in our state, as well. But in 2011, the Attorney General's Sexual Assault Kit Commission recommended that all old evidence collection kits be tested, and law enforcement agencies were encouraged to send their unprocessed kits to the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation to be analyzed at no charge.

"The results have been stunning. ..."

Hmmm. The state steps in with money to solve a local problem. An idea for Utah?

[Or maybe we should just think of something less off-putting to call them besides "rape kits."]