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.

39 comments

Karen H
Karen H1 months ago

If rape kits are not processed, it is a reflection of the belief that "boys will be boys" and women have no rights to our bodies.

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Joan E
Joan E1 months ago

This is so wrong.

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Lisa M
Lisa M2 months ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa M2 months ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa M2 months ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa M2 months ago

Thanks.

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Jessica L
Jessica Lynch2 months ago

Test the Rape Kits! #EndTheBacklog #MeToo

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Toni W
Toni W2 months ago

TYFS

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Toni W
Toni W2 months ago

TYFS

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Mely L
Mely Lu2 months ago

Signed. Thanks for sharing.

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