Percent of Concluded Rape Investigations Reaches 50 Year Low

Thanks to the #MeToo movement and brave sexual assault survivors who refuse to be silenced, this country is gradually getting better at talking about rape. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about holding rapists accountable in the justice system.

The Associated Press looked through the FBI’s data on rape cases and noticed a disappointing trend: the police are closing out rape cases at the lowest rate since 1964.

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Over 53 years, the closure rate has plunged from 62 percent to 32 percent. Closing doesn’t mean “solved” either, mind you – the term can be used not just because the case has been referred to a prosecutor, but when the police end the investigation for any other number of reasons.

Just think of all the scientific advancements we’ve made since the 1960s: you’d have to hope with all the progress in the field of DNA, things would have gotten at least somewhat easier to develop evidence against rapists. It’s counterintuitive to see that the authorities are being less successful at closing rape cases.

Looking at the situation somewhat more optimistically (if you can call it that) the drop in clearance rate is probably partially attributable to the fact that the police now more properly believe women’s reports and keep hard-to-solve or prosecute cases open, whereas they may have closed the case quickly or declined to open the case altogether in the past.

And although most rapes still go unreported by a wide margin, victims are going to the authorities to report their rapes at higher rates than we’ve see in a decade. At least that suggests that victims are starting to feel less ashamed and that the police will maybe give more consideration to their experiences than they’ve assumed previously.

Now we just need to ride that positive momentum by helping the survivors get the justice they’re looking for!

The AP points to the biggest obstacle being a lack of funding and resources being devoted to rape. Sex crime units are still understaffed and overworked, making it hard for them to close out cases, which can already be difficult to prove given the sometimes he-said/she-said nature and lack of witnesses.

That demonstrates a widespread failure for police departments to prioritize rape. Rape may rank as the second worst offense on the FBI’s crime index, but it is also the second least solved violent crime. Especially at a time when more survivors are coming forward, there needs to be deliberate effort and (wo)manpower to adequately investigate and close these cases.

Take Action

It’s embarrassing to remember that some of the unclosed cases are due to rape kits NOT EVEN BEING TESTED in the first place. That’s not just a failure to close a case, that’s a failure to begin one. Sign this petition encouraging North Carolina to get through its backlog of kits to find justice for some of the brave survivors who came forward.

37 comments

Lisa M
Lisa M12 days ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa M12 days ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa M12 days ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa M12 days ago

Thanks.

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Jessica L
Jessica Lynch13 days ago

Test the Rape Kits! #EndTheBacklog #MeToo

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Toni W
Toni W14 days ago

TYFS

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Toni W
Toni W14 days ago

TYFS

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Mely L
Mely Lu15 days ago

Signed. Thanks for sharing.

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Karen H
Karen H15 days ago

What makes this more tragic is the fact that many rape victims pay for the collection of the rape kit, which can be as high as $2,000. States then let the untested kits sit untouched until the statute of limitations run out, and then discard them. If the victim paid for the kit, the state has no right to destroy it without notifying the victim. Agreeing to the collection of a rape kit represents a victim's hope for justice. Receiving a bill for basic police work represents an unacceptable but still too common truth - that the criminal justice system has a lot to learn about how it deals with rape victims.

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Sherri S
Sherri S17 days ago

Rapists need to be punished! This is complete BS....these monsters will only go on to victimize more people. How is this fair to the victim???

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