December 17, 2014 — National victim advocacy groups belonging to the Rape Kit Action Project (RKAP) applaud today’s passage of Ohio Senate Bill 316, a bill that will provide justice for countless victims of sexual assault and create safer communities. The bill, sponsored by State Senator Capri Cafaro, sets guidelines for the submission and testing of forensic rape evidence. Specifically, Senate Bill 316 requires investigating agencies to submit sexual assault evidence kits (rape kits) for DNA analysis within 30 days after receipt and a determination that a crime may have been committed. Law enforcement must review all records and reports related to old sexual assault crimes and submit any evidence from cases in which a crime may have been committed. The bill also requires forensic labs to submit the results into a DNA database as soon as possible.
The issues this law seeks to address are part of a nationwide problem. Ohio now joins a growing list of states mandating testing of sexual assault evidence. California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, and Texas all have passed similar laws, and RKAP is working closely with lawmakers across the country on similar measures.
In those communities that have prioritized the processing of previously untested kits, the impact is apparent. Numerous rapes and murders have been solved, bringing answers to victims and taking dangerous serial criminals off the streets. So far, under the Ohio Attorney General’s initiative, Cleveland Division of Police have sent more than 4400 kits that date back to 1993. This work has solved hundreds of rape and murder cases. In fact, Cleveland has identified 166 serial rapists – including one who, in his criminal career, killed a law enforcement officer. And victims of these crimes – many who have waited decades – are getting long-deserved answers and a chance at justice.
RKAP member organizations (Natasha’s Justice Project, National Center for Victims of Crime, and Rape Abuse Incest National Network) believe that the best interests of victims and public safety are served by comprehensive statewide policies to account for and provide forensic analysis on sexual assault evidence kits.
For more information on RKAP, go to www.everykitcounts.org.