Gov. Wolf Commends State Police for Ending Forensic Rape Kit Backlog, Supporting Crime Victims
April 17, 2019
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today commended the Pennsylvania State Police forensics for completing the testing of more than 1,100 kits in 2018 and reducing its backlog from 390 kits to zero.
“I commend the Pennsylvania State Police for its commitment to ending the backlog of untested rape kits,” Gov. Wolf said. “When I took office in 2015, I made it a priority to bring the right level of staff on board at the Pennsylvania State Police to do this incredibly important forensic work in a much timelier manner,” Gov. Wolf said. “Timely testing of these vital pieces of evidence helps to ensure victims know they are supported, and their case is important. Test results also ensure perpetrators are held accountable for this heinous crime.”
“For every untested kit there is both a victim without resolution in their respective case and an unknown perpetrator who could be identified,” Jennifer Storm, Victim Advocate for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania said. “It is unconscionable to think of evidence just lying around untested that could lead to justice and prevent further sexual violence and I applaud the Pennsylvania State Police for helping to end the backlog.”
The Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection Act was amended on July 10, 2015, with the passage of Act 27. As amended, local law enforcement agencies are required to submit the number of sexual assault kits in their inventory with any backlogged evidence awaiting testing to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which in turn publishes an annual report at the end of April. Each testing laboratory used by a local law enforcement agency is required to submit the same information to the department.
The annual report is intended to provide a comprehensive view of the number of untested sexual assault kits in the commonwealth and to ensure that those kits are tested in a timely fashion. This, in part, ensures that sexual assault data is uploaded into the requisite federal database to help solve related sexual assault cases.
Kits may be considered backlogged for a number of reasons, including that some kits are from victims who have not yet consented to testing and anonymous victims.