WA did more than half of the backlog of sexual assault kits


Washington state has processed more than half of its backlog of sexual assault kits, says one new report.

In 2015, lawmakers implemented reforms to improve Washington’s response to sexual assault. This included addressing the backlog of untested sexual assault kits, representing approximately 9,232 kits. These kits are collected after a sexual assault and contain DNA and other evidence that can help law enforcement in cases of sexual assault. Arrears kits are those that have been collected by law enforcement but not submitted to a criminal lab for testing.

As part of these reforms, the Washington Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Advisory Group was also established and tasked with monitoring the progress of the kit backlog testing, as well as making recommendations to the legislature and governor on how to ” improve the state’s response. . Its latest annual report presents the work completed this year and makes recommendations for 2022.

During the 2021 session, the legislature acted on two of the advisory group’s recommendations by amending various sex offense laws to remove a matrimonial obligation. This prevented out-of-state offenders from avoiding registering as sex offenders after moving to Washington.

House Bill 1109 also included a number of provisions, including addressing arrears of sexual assault kits, reviewing cases and improving the survivors’ bill of rights, the group’s report says. advisory.

This year, the advisory group monitored the supply chain for sexual assault kits and the progress of pending tests. He revealed that of the 9,232 pending kits, 5,129 have been tested since 2016. Almost 2,100 new DNA profiles have been uploaded to the database, and there have been 794 results, meaning the DNA from these kits matched a DNA profile in the database.

The Washington State Patrol estimates it will have finished testing all pending kits by the end of 2022, the report said.

It has also published best practice guidelines for informing victims of the progress of their closed case, using victim-centered and trauma-informed approaches. He also examined access to critical services from nurse examiners of sexual assault and explored best practices for investigating and prosecuting crimes of sexual assault.

The report also makes recommendations, including providing funding for statewide Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training, improving DNA collection by creating DNA collection protocols from of eligible offenders who will not serve a prison sentence, reimburse all sexual assaults. examinations even when the assault occurred outside of state; and increase the training of prosecutors in sexual assault cases.

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