Police in Illinois launch online rape evidence tracking tool
Survivors of sexual assault in the US state of Illinois will soon be able to monitor online the progress of DNA evidence related to their case.
Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly announced earlier this week that the Division of Forensic Services will implement an online sexual assault tracking system by the end of the year. The system will let survivors track the progress of any swabs and samples as they move through the DNA testing process from the hospital, to the forensic laboratory to the office of the prosecutor. Each case will be assigned a unique number and password to ensure privacy.
“Survivors of sexual assault or violent crime shouldn’t be left in the dark while their kit makes its way through a system that can seem cold and indifferent,” Mr Kelly said. “They should know that hospitals, police, forensic scientists, and prosecutors care about their case and transparency is the best way to make sure that happens.”
Mr Kelly said he hoped that making more data available will encourage those involved in the process to find ways to expedite the collection and processing of evidence.
Processing delays across the US have led to the creation of a massive backlog of more than 225,000 rape kit samples, some of which were submitted months or even years ago.
“Delays in DNA testing are greater and more complex than simply speeding up the test itself,” Mr Kelly said. “But by completely laying bare the process from start to finish, I know all stakeholders involved will see many steps that can be taken, both inside and outside the lab, which will reduce turnaround time.”