Every 107 seconds: Why Every Rape Kit Should Be Tested

Photo by Pat Sullivan, AP

Every 107 seconds
, someone is sexually assaulted in the United States. In July, USA Today estimated that hundreds of thousands of rape kits sat untested in police and crime storage facilities across the U.S.

Each untested kit represents an opportunity lost: to confirm a known suspect; to connect the suspect to other crimes; to identify an unknown assailant; to exonerate the wrongly convicted or accused. Yesterday's newly announced $41 million in federal funds to 20 jurisdictions, combined with the New York County District Attorney’s Office's own grant program of $38 million--hopes to to eliminate the backlog in 43 jurisdictions in 27 states across the country.

There are those who say that government has no role in solving our problems, that journalism is a watchdog that has lost its teeth. But in New York City, when officials began testing every rape kit, the arrest rate for rape jumped from 40% to 70%. In Cleveland, Rachel Dissell's six years of rape kit reporting has helped to convict 100 rapists. Twenty-seven states is a good start. If this proves to work, how about fifty?