FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 7, 2015
Rep. Tarr Wants Alaska to Take Advantage of Federal Funding to Ensure Untested Rape Kits are Analyzed
ANCHORAGE – Across the country thousands of rape kits, that could help identify perpetrators, are going untested. In Alaska, the exact number of untested rape kits is unknown. Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) is renewing her call for the Department of Public Safety to conduct an inventory of untested rape kits and provide a report to the Alaska Legislature.
“A rape kit is a valuable tool that can help a victim obtain justice but only if the kit is tested an analyzed in a timely manner,” said Rep. Geran Tarr. “As it stands now, a victim can report the attack and submit to a rape exam only to have the perpetrator go unidentified because we have a backlog of untested rape kits. This is unacceptable.”
Currently, the Alaska Department of Public Safety does not track the number of untested rape kits despite the fact that the rate of rape in Alaska is three times the national average.
Rep. Tarr is sponsoring House Bill 117 requiring the Alaska Department of Public Safety to conduct an inventory of all the untested rape kits in Alaska, including those in the possession of local law enforcement agencies. HB 117 also stipulates that the Department of Public Safety prepare a report for the Alaska Legislature with the details of the inventory. The report will also include a plan for addressing the current backlog of untested rape kits.
“The federal government recently invested millions to help with the national backlog of untested rape kits but Alaska is only eligible if an audit has been completed,” said Rep. Tarr. “Right now there could be evidence just waiting to be analyzed that could take a rapist off the streets. We must know the size and scope of the backlog to make the appropriate decisions about how to allocate resources.”
The DNA samples included in a rape kit can help identify suspects and strengthen the case against a perpetrator in court. The results can also exonerate the innocent. New data suggest that a large percentage of rapes are committed by serial rapists who could more easily be stopped if the samples submitted by victims were analyzed in a timely manner.