For decades, tens of thousands of boxes of DNA evidence that nurses meticulously gathered from the bodies and clothing of sex assault victims sat stacked in storage rooms, ignored. Later, this mountain of untested evidence would be known as the “rape kit backlog”.
As scrutiny of disregarded rape kits mounted, a portrait of a more difficult to tally sort emerged – rape kits police destroyed. As with the rape kit backlog, there is no national tally of the kits police destroyed. But increasingly, local media have published reports of police destroying rape kits in states as disparate as Utah, Kentucky and Colorado.
In some cases, police destroyed kits because they deemed allegations unfounded, alleged that victims didn’t cooperate or arrested suspects without the benefit of DNA. In others, victims never filed a police report and relinquished DNA to a group of anonymous rape kits known as non-reporting or “Jane Doe” evidence, collected in case they one day decide they can report…
In 2013, in Aurora, Colorado, police department workers derailed a prosecution when they destroyed a rape kit from a 2009 assault. The error was discovered when a detective got a hit on an offender DNA profile, went to pick up the rape kit and was told it no longer existed. Shortly thereafter, police stopped all evidence destruction while they investigated, and found workers destroyed evidence in 48 rape cases between 2011 and 2013…
In Kentucky, the state auditor discovered some police departments routinely destroyed rape kits after a year, even though the state had no statute of limitations for rape. The perpetrators could have been prosecuted as long as they were alive. He wouldn’t hazard a guess at how many kits had been destroyed by police….
“You may have a hit against the national DNA database, and when law enforcement or prosecutors are notified, [they] find out evidence has been destroyed,” said Kentucky state auditor Adam Edelen. “That’s a scandal – it’s a tragedy.”
Most state lawmakers, Rebecca Brown, policy director at the Innocence Project, said, fail to provide guidance on when to test and retain crime scene evidence, which in the case of a sexual assault is a rape kit.
RTFA for details of cases dropped, cases never carried to prosecution. There are lots of bureaucratic rationales around. A few are rolled out in the article. My feelings are a bit more abrupt. This crap has been going on for decades.
Cops don’t give a damn. The judicial system and prosecutors don’t give a damn. Our state legislators don’t give a damn. After all, it’s only women who are abused by the system which is supposed to be providing aid and comfort, justice to resolve what happened to them. And our society as a whole doesn’t give a damn, either.
No one will stand up and say that. But, the same number will not stand up and do anything about it either. I think any legislator who won’t fight to revise or repair useless evidence laws – especially as it applies to rape cases – should be replaced by someone with a conscience.