You would think, if given evidence about thousands of potential rapists, who are quite possibly committing repeat offenses, that police departments across the country would see rape kits for what they are – an opportunity to stop horrifying crimes. But, as Ximena Ramirez has written for Care2 before, county and state governments are surprisingly willing to let rape kits pile up untested, sometimes promising to take action and then letting the kits gather dust. California has been the main focus for the huge numbers of untested rape kits, but now the Human Rights Watch has begun to investigate Illinois and discovered some truly appalling statistics.
In a report titled “I Used To Think The Law Would Protect Me: Illinois’ Failure To Test Rape Kits,” the HRW describes the results of their comprehensive data analysis of 127 of 267 jurisdictions. They found that only 1,474 of the 7,494 rape kits booked into evidence since 1995 had been tested – just around 20%. That means that the state of Illinois sees 80 percent of the crimes as not worth investigating – something, as the report’s author points out, that is insulting to the rape victims and a threat to the common well-being and security of all of the state’s residents. Which of course begs the question: whose side are the police really on?
But here there is some direct action to be taken. The 2010 Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Act passed the Illinois state legislature this spring; it would require that every rape kit booked into evidence be sent to a crime laboratory. However, this bill still hasn’t been signed by Governor Pat Quinn, so this is where you come in – especially if you’re an Illinois resident (but even if you’re not), email the governor and let him know that this horrible track record regarding women’s rights needs to be stopped.
Photo from Flickr.