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Criminal Justice Update

A Letter From the Attorney General


Since 2011, my office has been working to reform the process for testing sexual assault kits and to better support survivors. We formed an advisory group to study the issue of old rape kits and to offer remedies. It recommended that evidence from any rape kit associated with a crime be tested.

Ohio law at the time did not require that law enforcement submit rape kits for testing, so my office made a request to agencies asking them to voluntarily bring their untested kits to my office’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI). In exchange, forensic scientists would analyze them at no charge to the local agency.

Thanks to our Sexual Assault Kit Testing Initiative, we finished DNA testing all 13,931 kits earlier this year. The testing conducted by our BCI scientists led to DNA matches in 36 percent of the cases. Rapists who thought they had gotten away with their crimes were identified and prosecuted.

Because of the spotlight on the initiative, and the results that have followed, the value of testing these kits has been accepted. And, our laws have changed. The statute of limitations for prosecuting rape has been extended from 20 to 25 years and, by law, every rape kit associated with a crime must be submitted to a crime lab for testing within 30 days.

The next logical step in the continuing process is a sexual assault kit tracking system. The sexual assault survivors who bravely endure a forensic exam will soon be able to anonymously monitor their evidence and tell where it is in the system and whether it has been tested. The cover of this edition of Criminal Justice Update offers a story on the development of this tracking system.

In August, my office convened an advisory group to study best practices and provide advice on building the system, which will be paid for with Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds. The advisory group, which includes scientists, law enforcement representatives, victim advocates, and medical professionals, is now working toward its goal.

Rape survivors have gone through unimaginable trauma, and not knowing where their cases stand can also be agonizing. Soon, survivors will be able to anonymously find out if their kits are at the hospital, the police department, or a crime lab and if DNA analysis has been conducted. This added transparency will help ensure that another accumulation of untested rape kits will never again happen in Ohio.

Very respectfully yours,
Mike DeWine
Ohio Attorney General