Criminal Justice Update
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Criminal Justice Update

A letter from the Attorney General:

When I first took office as Attorney General in 2011, I was shocked to learn that thousands of sexual assault kits were sitting — untested — in police evidence rooms across the state. The situation came as a surprise because when I was in the U.S. Senate, I sponsored the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act, which provided millions of dollars to pay for DNA testing.
I formed an advisory group to study the issue and offer remedies. It recommended that evidence from any rape kit associated with a crime must be tested. Since Ohio law at the time did not require that law enforcement submit rape kits for testing, I made a request to agencies asking them to voluntarily bring their untested kits to my office’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI). In exchange, forensic scientists would analyze them at no charge to the local agency.
I added four new forensic scientist positions at BCI to focus exclusively on the Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Testing Initiative. In 2011, 163 kits were delivered; in 2012, 1,900 more showed up. We received so many kits that I added six more scientists to the project. The number of kits submitted to BCI as part of this initiative hit 13,931 in 2016. Sadly, each kit represents a person who suffered an unimaginable trauma.
The initiative wrapped up on Jan. 31. The cover of this edition of Criminal Justice Update offers a story on the details of the announcement about the completion of the initiative and a preview of a related Two Days in May conference symposium.
Because of the spotlight on the initiative, and the results that have followed, the value of testing these kits has been accepted. And, our laws have changed. The statute of limitations for prosecuting rape has been extended from 20 to 25 years and, by law, every rape kit associated with a crime must be submitted to a crime lab for testing within 30 days.
When agencies turn in kits for testing without delay, suspects can be identified faster, taken off the streets sooner, and future attacks can be prevented. I knew that testing these kits would take time — but it was the right thing to do. Thanks to the hard work of our BCI scientists, we accomplished something that makes a difference in the lives of sexual assault survivors.
Very respectfully yours,
Mike DeWine
Ohio Attorney General