Number of untested rape kits decreases in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said despite the fact that the number of backlogged rape kits in the state has dropped nearly 700 from 2015 to 2016, more work needs to be done.

“That’s 700 Pennsylvanians who received answers about their rape kits,” DePasquale said. “This result is one of the reasons I have been highlighting this issue for the last year: Sexual assault victims deserve justice and testing the kits provides them a chance for justice. And that’s exactly what testing these kits can provide for them.”

DePasquale said he remains doubtful remaining kits can be tested in a timely manner without state funding.

The auditor general released a report in Sept. 2016 on the state’s untested kits, which he followed up with a number of recommendations, including more funding for staff and equipment to ensure all future kits are tested within six months of submission.

The Department of Health issued its annual mandated report Monday on the state’s number of backlogged kits.

That report shows 1,214 kits were backlogged as of March 7, which is a decrease from 1,908 kits that were backlogged as of Dec. 31, 2015.

DePasquale applauded Pennsylvania State Police for spearheading data collection for the 2016 report.

Of the over 1,100 law enforcement agencies across the state, nearly 900 of them reported on their backlogged kits. That’s a 108 percent increase over the 2015 report when only 432 agencies reported.

“Getting more law-enforcement agencies to respond was a crucial step in ensuring Pennsylvania has an accurate picture of the backlog,” DePasquale said. “An accurate count is the foundation on which every other part of the process to test these kits rests.”

DePasquale also launched a change.org campaign with 11-year old Madison Wertz of Williamsport. They are collecting signatures of people who believe lawmakers need to provide more funding to get untested rape kits tested.

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