Lake County plans to test some of the 240 untested rape kits that are part of a decade-long backlog and make policy changes to help prevent another logjam, officials said.
Lake County officials announced plans Wednesday to test all non-anonymous rape kits performed on or after Jan. 1, 2008, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported. Rape kits performed before that date will be destroyed unless the survivor contacts a local rape crisis center and seeks testing by Aug. 6.
The prosecutor’s office didn’t immediately say why the older kits will be destroyed.
Testing the backlogged kits could help the prosecutor’s office win more cases, said Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Nadia Wardrip.
Law enforcement agencies must now retrieve all completed rape kits within 72 hours of notification. Non-anonymous kits will be tested within 30 days, while anonymous kits will be stored for up to a year before being destroyed.
“It is a model to be held up and a model that we should all celebrate because they are putting victims first in this county,” said Tracey Horth Krueger, CEO of the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault.
The county’s Sexual Assault Response Team will also begin generating quarterly reports to track rape kit intakes.
Gov. Eric Holcomb ordered the Statewide Sexual Assault Response Team Advisory Council to explore the possibility of creating a rape kit tracking and testing database.
The changes were sparked by a state survey released in December that found at least 2,500 untested rape kits across Indiana.