There are roughly 400,000 untested rape kits sitting in evidence lockers right now in America
This also means that there are possibly 400,000 rapists on the loose.
Despite the prevalence of sexual crimes — an estimated one in three women experiences sexual violence at some point in her life — it has a shockingly low conviction rate. The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) estimates that only three out of every 100 rapists will ever spend a day in prison. That’s partly because of low reporting rates, of course, but that’s not the whole story. Of the rapes that are reported to the police, only about one out of four leads to an arrest — and of those arrests, only about one out of four leads to a conviction.
“Our poor criminal justice response to sexual assault is a really basic failure — a tangible symbol of how society and law enforcement fails rape victims,” Sarah Tofte, the director of policy and advocacy for Joyful Heart, told ThinkProgress. “It’s a symbol of lost justice, and a lack of healing and closure for survivors.”
Tofte believes there are concrete steps that law enforcement can take to shift that narrative. She’s heading up a new project at Joyful Heart called End the Backlog — an effort to pressure states and cities to address the estimated 400,000 rape kits that are left untested, a dynamic that prevents sexual assault cases from moving forward. There are two places where rape kits get stalled in the system: in police storage facilities, where a detective or prosecutor may not have the resources to request testing; and in crime labs, where rape kits are waiting to be tested but aren’t prioritized ahead of other DNA evidence.