STATEWIDE–The state of Indiana has almost 5,000 untested rape kits. That topic was brought up at the second and final debate featuring the three candidates for governor Tuesday night.
All three candidates (Republican incumbent Governor Eric Holcomb, Democrat Woody Myers, Libertarian Donald Rainwater) were asked what they would do to clear the backlog and provide law enforcement officers with the necessary tools to support sexual assault survivors.
Holcomb got the chance to answer first.
“Our state police have been addressing this over the years even before I got here. We’ll continue to partner with those local agencies in all 92 counties as we process and as we get to the bottom of each and every one of these cases, so that it is done efficiently as well as accurately,” said Holcomb.
Rainwater said there’s “no excuse” for the fact that the kits have gone untested.
“The state of Indiana has plenty of time, money, and resources to do trips to China, but we don’t have the resources to process rape kits? It should not be something that’s been around for years, as the Governor says. It should have been something that was taken care of immediately and I will do it,” said Rainwater.
Myers said if the problem had been addressed properly, then a question wouldn’t have been asked about it.
“Republican leaders have had 16 years to make this problem go away. Clearly, we have a problem with keeping our priorities straight. We can get that number down to 0. In a Myers/Lawson administration, that will be a priority. In a Myers/Lawson administration, we’ll publish the number of unprocessed kits on a regular basis just to make sure that we’re kept to our word,” said Myers.
The goal of the organization “End the Backlog” is to identify the extent of the nation’s backlog and best practices for eliminating the number of untested rape kits there are in the U.S.
They say Indiana’s untested rape kit total is 4,980. They also say Indiana does not have appropriate funding for rape kit reform and the state has not mandated testing for newly collected rape kits.
In 2019, Indiana enacted a law that requires law enforcement and prosecutors to provide rape kits to the tracking system. The law allows a rape survivor to register for electronic updates, including notice of rape kit destruction, via the state’s kit tracking system.
State legislators have considered additional rape kit reform bills, but those bills have failed to pass.
LISTEN: Candidates address untested rape kits