June 5, 2013
DENVER—A bill sponsored by state Rep. Frank McNulty to eliminate the backlog of untested rape kits in Colorado was signed into law today. Rape kits are used in all sexual assault investigations to preserve evidence from victims, but under current law, many kits in Colorado are never tested after they are collected.
McNulty’s measure, House Bill 1020, requires the Department of Public Safety to adopt standards for when evidence collected after a sexual assault is submitted and when it must be analyzed and compared to DNA databases. Consent of the victim is required prior to the release of any evidence.
“Signing this measure into law will help provide justice for women who have been victimized,” McNulty said. “Now, we can finally get to work on eliminating the rape kit backlog.”
A 2011 report by the National Institute of Justice showed that in a span of five years, 18 percent of unsolved alleged sexual assault cases contained untested forensic evidence that remained in police custody. In Colorado, thousands of rape kits remain untested across multiple counties, even though the Colorado Bureau of Investigations offers to test the collected evidence free of charge.
In Detroit, Mich., law enforcement recently began testing a stockpile of more than 11,000 untested rape kits. After just 153 kits were tested, law enforcement officials were able to identify at least 20 serial rapists.
McNulty’s measure was inspired by a November 2012 report by 7 News’ Keli Rabon that detailed Colorado’s massive backlog of untested rape kits.