CHICAGO – Responding to reports that sexual assault survivors and law enforcement agencies are often left in the dark for as long as 12-24 months while they wait for critical rape kit testing results needed to advance investigations, State Rep. Juliana Stratton, D-Chicago, is advocating for reforms that would mandate the creation of one of the nation’s first modern Rape Kit Tracking & Survivor Notification Systems.
“It takes a great deal of courage for survivors of sexual assault to come forward and subject their bodies to the invasive, four-hour process of DNA evidence collection needed to create a rape kit,” said Stratton. “They subject themselves to this traumatic process because they seek safety and justice after experiencing the most traumatic event of their lives. Keeping them in the dark is wrong and re-traumatizing. We live in a nation with access to the most advanced technology in the world, and I question our priorities when sexual assault survivors and law enforcement agencies can more easily track a package from Amazon.com than they can monitor the status of a rape kit in Illinois. It is my hope that my bill will help change that.”
The Stratton-sponsored House Bill 3646 would require the Illinois State Police Crime Lab to implement one of the nation’s first automated Statewide Rape Kit Tracking & Survivor Notification Systems. The bill is modeled after a landmark law enacted in Washington State last year and two systems first piloted as the result of rape kit reforms in Michigan. The System would voluntarily allow sexual assault survivors and law enforcement agencies to monitor the status of rape kit testing in real time via a secure, web-based system. In doing so, it would also address a critical need for greater transparency and accountability of the Illinois State Police Crime Lab to Illinois’ communities.
“I can only imagine the frustration and pain these survivors feel knowing that information exists that could put their attackers away, and the powerlessness they feel while waiting for months – or even years – in the dark for answers,” Stratton continued. “Let’s honor these survivors’ courage by committing to remove dangerous sexual predators from the streets.”