July 7, 2010

VII. Conclusion

The number of untested rape kits in Illinois points to larger concerns with the way Illinois handles rape kits and rape investigations. For rape victims to access justice, policymakers and law enforcement officials in Illinois should ensure that all booked rape kits are sent for testing as required by the 2010 Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Act. But their responsibility does not end there. Law enforcement personnel, in collaboration with rape treatment providers and with the support of elected officials, need to create systems to ensure that every reported rape case is thoroughly investigated and all leads are followed so that it is possible to identify and arrest those responsible. As one rape treatment provider told Human Rights Watch, “It’s time to show rape victims that we value what they went through to have a rape kit collected. It’s an invasive process that we ask nearly every rape victim to have done in the immediate aftermath of perhaps the most traumatic event of their life. The least we can do is test it.”[111]

The 2010 Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Act should ensure that every booked rape kit is sent to the Illinois State Police crime laboratory—or other designated laboratory—for testing. When it goes into effect, Illinois will be the first state in the country to attempt to comprehensively address its rape kit backlog. The new law provides Illinois with the possibility of eliminating its rape kit backlog entirely. To ensure justice for rape victims, Illinois must appropriate the funds and provide the stringent oversight necessary to realize its goal of testing all rape kits in a timely, effective manner.

[111] Human Rights Watch interview with Sharmili Majmudar, rape treatment provider, Chicago, IL, May 5, 2009.