Sexual Assault Evidence Database to make process more transparent

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SPRINGFIELD (Ill.) — If you are a victim of sexual assault — and you submitted a rape kit — you’re in the dark until the kit is processed. That process can take years.  

Governor Pritzker signed a bill Friday aiming to change that. 

The bill creates a database for sexual assault evidence.

The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, or ICASA was one of many organizations that backed the bill. 

“There needs to be a clear tracking system,” Carrie Ward, Executive Director of ICASA, said. “So that victims will be able to access what is the status of the kit, what is happening right now, and how they will be able to log in to a system and find out what is going on with their case. a system did not exist to do that exact thing.”

The creation of the database comes in response to a massive backlog of sexual assault evidence. The database itself will not speed up the processing system — but for the first time it will make it transparent. 

Victims will now be able to check where their evidence kits are in the process. Even though the bill was just signed, the database has been in the works for a while.

“The Illinois State Police commited to making a sexual assault evidence database months ago,” Illinois State Police Acting Director Brendan Kelly said. “And has begun the technical work to have it online by the start of next year, but this bill provides much needed foia protections and a statutory framework for the system”

It still can take years for the kit to be processed, but advocates believe this is a strong start toward changing the entire system.

“Because right now the impact on victims is still tremendous,” Ward said. “They are waiting too long. There is too much information that is not at their fingertips. so there is still a lot of work to be done, but I think this takes a major step towards providing information and making it more accessible than it was before.”

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