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New Oklahoma task force getting around to testing 7,000 untested rape kits…

9:41 AM EDT on October 18, 2019

I hate it when people ask, “do you want the good news or the bad news first?” If I choose the bad news first, I’m usually too disappointed about the bad news to be excited about the good news. But if I get the good news first, I’m waiting for the messenger to tell me that I won a new car but won’t get it unless I play three fun games at David Stanley Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge. Well I’m not giving you the choice in this article. The good news is that the State of Oklahoma has secured a grant to address the backlog of untested rape kits. The bad news is that Oklahoma has 7,000 to analyze.

Via Fox 25…

OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — Attorney General Mike Hunter announced today that the state has been awarded the federal Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) Grant to help collect, prioritize, and test a number of the sexual assault forensic evidence kits that have been identified in police evidence rooms.

The three-year, $2.4 million grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, will fund the initiatives put forth by the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) Task Force. An audit identified over 7,000 sexual assault evidence kits were in police evidence rooms statewide.

A rape kit can include an examination, photographs, and DNA swabs to collect evidence from sexual assault victims and is often administered by a medical professional. According to End the Backlog, a “backlogged” kit is one that has not been tested within 30 days of being received by a lab. A month may not seem like a very long time, but it’s an eternity for a victim who has gone through the trauma of a sexual assault.

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad our state officials are taking this seriously. Not only should this new grant fund the testing of kits, but it also sets out to pay the salaries of both a victims’ advocate and investigators to work the cases. This is a big deal. For years, Oklahoma has either not had the resources or the initiative to lessen this problem. According to the OSBI, our state unfortunately had over 2,400 rapes or attempts last year alone. Yet we have 7,000 kits to test. So I think a lot of those kits have been sitting well beyond their 30 days in the lab.

In another good news/bad news situation, a company is offering do-it-yourself rape kits that aim to make it easier for victims to collect their own evidence. Unfortunately since the evidenced would not have been collected in a professional way, it would likely be at the expense of victims’ ability to present the evidence to law enforcement. But according to Fox 25, Mike Hunter ain’t having that…

Two companies marketing self-administered rape kits have responded to cease-and-desist letters sent by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, arguing that they believe there's a legitimate market for their products among some sexual assault victims…

Law enforcement officials, victims' advocates and others have raised concerns about the at-home practice, saying these kits are an inadequate replacement for a forensic medical exam.

The cease-and-desist letters say at-home rape kits break Oklahoma's consumer protection laws and wouldn't be admissible in court.

I am really proud of Mike Hunter for shutting that shit down. How awful would it be to decide to get help from law enforcement, only to find that your at-home evidence collection kit is useless? But thankfully, not only will these bogus kits not be sold in Oklahoma, but the SAFE Task Force also pushed for new legislation that requires rape kits gathered in Oklahoma to be submitted for testing within 20 days of collection. Finally, we Oklahomans get a good news-good news situation. Unless you’re a rapist. Then you’ve got bad news.

Bad boys bad boys. Follow Hayley on twitter @squirrellygeek

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