Defining the Problem

Across the country, police departments have chronically failed to investigate rape cases.

Sexual assaults, like all criminal cases, are proved in court with evidence. When police and prosecutors do not pursue these cases, they do not request DNA testing for the associated rape kits.

We do not call this a “backlog.” That term suggests that something went wrong other than law enforcement merely ignoring rape cases and allowing forensic evidence to accumulate. This is not a naturally occurring phenomenon. It is a total, complete failure of law enforcement to do the job they were already provided the opportunity and funding to do.

Federal officials have estimated that there are hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in police storage facilities throughout the country.

People for the Enforcement of Rape Laws is a program of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center to monitor law enforcement responses to sexual violence, develop peer advocacy, and organize for criminal justice reform. We urge you to learn more about America’s hidden rape crisis, where it has been exposed, and why it matters. We invite you to take action and support our efforts to make sure law enforcement takes rape seriously.