CHICAGO, Aug. 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Test400k, a national rape kit reform advocacy organization, stood with sexual assault survivors and elected officials today to launch a dynamic new campaign, called "Just Track It," by sending every United States governor a rape kit via two-day delivery and releasing the kit's tracking codes to encourage the public and media to follow their delivery. The campaign was launched at the McCormick Place Hyatt to coincide with the kickoff of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) annual conference, where leading state policy makers will converge from August 8-11.
Speaking at the launch and awareness event will be rape survivor Michelle Kuiper, Julie Smolyansky, Co-Founder of Test400k, Washington State Representative Tina Orwall (D-WA), and Tim Stacy of STACS DNA.
The Just Track It campaign highlights how easy and common it is to use tracking codes for packages sent around the world, but this courtesy shockingly evades most rape victims when it comes to their rape kits. This situation has forced many victims to anxiously wait months, years or even decades to receive information about the status of their rape kit, and provides no mechanism to hold law enforcement accountable for their pursuit of the investigation. Lack of such information significantly slows the rape kit process and can result in lost kits. This antiquated approach re-traumatizes victims who are awaiting results and limits the actions of the law enforcement and prosecutors who need the data to arrest offenders and protect the public.
Each Test400K Just Track It package contains a standard rape kit as used in police investigations across the country, as well as a request that all governors sign and endorse the Test400K National Call to Action for three rape kit reforms: 1) Test every rape kit; 2) Test every rape kit within 15-30 days; and 3) Implement a Victim Notification & Rape Kit Tracking System. The packages will also include a unique login code for each governor to tour an online demonstration of the nation's first and only rape kit tracking system that offers a portal for victim notification among hospitals and law enforcement agencies.
"Just Track It calls for an end to the systemic de-prioritization of the sexual violence that disproportionately impacts women and girls in our nation. The existence of an estimated 400,000 untested rape kits collecting dust across our country, and that few states provide sexual assault survivors with any form of notification about the status of their kit is outrageous. We hope our nation's governors will let us know that they feel the same way by endorsing our Test400K Call to Action within two weeks," said Test400K Co-Founder Julie Smolyansky, who is also the CEO of Lifeway Foods and an Executive Producer of The Hunting Ground documentary.
"Statistics show that only three out of every 100 rapists will ever see a day in prison in the U.S., yet a significant majority of rape kits are never processed for DNA," said Test400K Co-Founder Jason Burdeen. "Faster processing with tracking means rape cases are investigated before any statute of limitations and ideally before a rapist brutalizes another innocent person. Our mission with 'Just Track It' is to bring awareness to politicians and the public about the enormous backlog of untested rape kits and how technology, such as an online tracking system, can streamline the testing process, establish accountability and make all of our communities safer."
Joining Test400K to launch "Just Track It" and endorse the Call to Action were Michelle Kuiper, the survivor of a 1994 sexual assault in college and who was stalked and terrorized until her kit was matched to a serial predator in 2011; and Washington State Representative Tina Orwall, who sponsored the nation's first law that requires the establishment of a statewide rape kit tracking and victim notification system.
"I was never able to fully live a life, without fear of my perpetrator finding me, until he was caught almost two decades later. A victim of their rapist not only has to survive the actual violence of rape itself, every feeling, thought, sound, image and smell… but, they have to figure out how to survive that trauma and their life after. I will never be fully healed, until I am in Heaven," said Kuiper, who championed a series of reforms in Kentucky. "Had my state of Kentucky had in place the very simple systems being called for in the Test400K Call to Action sooner, maybe what happened in my case would have been different... maybe the other two victims would have been spared the pain that I have endured. I ask our nation's Governors to take a very close look at that Sexual Assault Forensic Exam kit, or S.A.F.E. kit they receive this week and realize that it is not only a "box," but someone's life in front of them, someone who "gave up" that evidence off their body in hopes for justice. Every governor has the opportunity to change a survivor's life for the better after a horrific tragedy has impacted them. Because one kit, one person, is one far too many."
"I support the Test400K Call to Action to eliminate the backlog of untested rape kits and ensure justice for sexual assault victims," said Rep. Orwall. "I am pleased that we passed in Washington State the first-in-the-nation legislation to create a statewide tracking system for rape kits that allows law enforcement and victims to track the status and location of kits. This bill is about justice and transparency, and it's a critical step in rape kit reform to support survivors of sexual assault."
The final speaker at the event will be Tim Stacy from STACS DNA. He will show how it is now easy for survivors to obtain information about rape kit status and how law enforcement can better track the kit's progress from the hospital, to the crime lab, and back to law enforcement using the Track-Kit system. He will also discuss how STACS created the nation's first and only system that currently includes a victim notification component.
"Every governor will receive a unique login code to experience a Track-Kit demo. They can see for themselves how tracking could work for their state to support survivors. At any time, survivors can access resources and vital information regarding the completion of their case," said Stacy.
Test400K will be releasing links to all the tracking codes for each governor on their website www.test400k.org. Throughout the next two weeks, the organization will also provide updates on which governors have endorsed the Test400K Call to Action.
"Just Track It" Event Information
11AM to 12PM
HYATT REGENCY MCCORMICK PLACE, Burnham A
2233 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.
The mission of Test400k is to eliminate the backlog of 400,000 untested rape kits in the United States, and empower healthy and safe communities by ending violence against women and children. Step 1 is to provide accountability and justice to victims. For more information, visit http://test400k.org.
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