Pennsylvania agencies work together to improve sexual assault evidence procedures

Pennsylvania’s State Police and Department of Health agreed on a strategic plan to end the sexual assault evidence back log, and to set new standards for accurate data and evidence.

Act 27, the Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection Act was signed today by Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner, Tyree C. Blocker, and Department of Health Secretary, Dr. Karen Murphy.

According to Pennsylvania Department of Health, as of April 28, 2016, there were 3,044 outstanding evidence kits, and 1,852 backlogged evidence reports in PA.

The National Institute of Justice reports, “Many jurisdictions across the country are looking at the issue of sexual assault evidence that has not been submitted to a crime lab for testing. It is unknown how many unanalyzed sexual assault kits (SAKs) there are nationwide. There are many reasons for this, but one is that tracking and counting SAK’s is an antiquated process in many U.S. jurisdictions. And, importantly, the availability of computerized evidence-tracking systems has been a significant issue for many of the nation’s jurisdictions for years.”

“This agreement with the Pennsylvania State Police helps maximize state resources to find out where the rape kit backlogs are, and gives local forensic laboratories protocols from a criminal laboratory. The Wolf Administration is committed to ending the backlog and ensuring that the rights of sexual assault victims are protected and guaranteed.” said Secretary of Health, Karen Murphy.

According to the official Pennsylvania Pressroom, the Department of Health will be the primary responsible agency, and will work with the state police, and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape to meet new requirements stated under Act 27.

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