Eliminating the Rape Kit Backlog

This special online collection provides information to help victim service professional engage in a multi-disciplinary dialogue about the issues and challenges involved with addressing the backlog of untested rape kits. It also includes information basic information for victims of sexual assault about the forensic examination process.

Understanding DNA Evidence
Defining the DNA Backlog
Response Guidelines, Protocols and Tools


This website is a new resource that provides accurate and easy-to-understand information about sexual assault forensics for survivors and the advocates who support them. The goal of the site is to help survivors make informed decisions and find their own path to healing and justice. The information is focused on Massachusetts but may be useful to those in other states as well. The site is in English and Spanish.

Understanding DNA Evidence: A Guide for Victim Service Professionals

This bulletin from the Office for Victims of Crime offer victim service professionals and understanding of how DNA testing may be used in victim's cases, including process, procedures and potential outcomes.

DNA: Critical Issues for Those that Work with Victims

This 24-minute DVD provides information for victim advocates, criminal justice practitioners, and others who work with crime victims about the issues involved in cases with DNA evidence. It highlights collection and preservation of evidence, as well as, victim notification and victim involvement in the process.

National Center for Victims of Crime DNA Educational Webinars

These free webinars provide information for victim service professionals, law enforcement officers, prosecutors and allied professionals.

DNA Technology Position Statement, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence

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Defining the DNA Backlog

Making Sense of DNA Backlogs -- Myths vs. Reality
This National Institute of Justice Special Report addresses the question of why backlogs of DNA evidence awaiting testing persist even after the federal government has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to eliminate them. Answering this question requires understanding both what a backlog is and how backlogs can be reduced; this report provides that understanding.

Backlogs of Forensic DNA evidence

This website provides information on defining, counting and reducing DNA Backlogs.

Survey of Law Enforcement Forensic Evidence Processing

This research study was conducted to estimate the number of unsolved homicide, rape and property cases in the U.S. that involved forensic evidence which was not submitted to a crime laboratory for analysis as well as to determine the policies and procedures used in law enforcement agencies for processing, submitting and retaining forensic evidence.
Summary chart of Study Results
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Response guidelines, protocols and tools

Summary of the Proceedings Eliminating the Rape Kit Backlog: A Roundtable to Explore a Victim-Centered Approach

In response to growing concerns over a nationwide backlog of DNA evidence from sexual assault cases, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office on Violence Against Women, in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President, Office of Justice Programs' National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Bureau of Justice Assistance, and Office for Victims of Crime, convened a roundtable discussion on May 11 - 12, 2010 in Washington, DC. This meeting was an opportunity for key stakeholders to come together to explore innovative and victim-centered approaches to eliminating the backlog of rape kits in state and local jurisdictions and crime laboratories.
National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examination of Adults/Adolescents

This protocol was designed as a guide for criminal justice and health care practitioners who respond to victims of sexual assault.

DNA Evidence: Enhancing LE's Impact from Crime Scene to Courtroom and Beyond (Volume II: Victim's Roundtable Report, October 2003)

Systems Change Analysis of SANE Programs: Identifying the Mediating Mechanisms of Criminal Justice System Impact
The purpose of this project was to determine whether adult sexual assault cases in a Midwestern community were more likely to be investigated and prosecuted after the implementation of a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program, and to identify the "critical ingredients" that contributed to that increase. The authors found that case progression through the criminal justice system significantly increased pre- to post-SANE, in that more cases reached the "final" stages of prosecution (I.e., conviction at trial and/or guilty plea bargains) post-SANE. The findings of study indicated that the SANE program has been instrumental in the creation of more complete, fully corroborated cases. A step-by-step toolkit for evaluating the work of SANEs in the criminal justice system is also available.

Safety and Justice for All: Examining the Relationship Between the Women's Anti-violence Movement and the Criminal Legal System
This document discusses the impact of the criminal justice system on violence against women and acts as a starting point for discussing and advancing new violence prevention strategies.

I Used to Think the Law Would Protect Me: Illinois' Failure to Test Rape Kits
This 42-page report from the Human Rights Watch collected comprehensive testing data from 127 of 264 jurisdictions in Illinois and found that only 1,474 of 7,494 sets of physical evidence, known as "rape kits," booked into evidence since 1995 could be confirmed as tested. That suggests 80 percent of rape kits may never have been examined in the state. Recommendations for change are discussed.

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Understanding DNA Evidence

PDF icon poster_summary.pdf1.93 MB