Report: Maryland has 3,700 untested rape kits
A new report from the state attorney general’s office found roughly 3,700 untested sexual assault evidence kits dating back as far as 1981. The Baltimore City Police has the second-highest number of untested kits of any law enforcement agency in the state, with 871 through 2016.
The report released Tuesday recommends several changes to how police handle the evidence collected from sexual assault victims statewide.
Despite the large number of untested kits, there’s no backlog waiting to be tested. Law enforcement agencies have decided not to test them for one reason or another. For example, law enforcement agencies reported that they didn’t test kits when suspects had already pled guilty, victims asked police not to prosecute, or police determined the accusations were fabricated.
The rules vary in each jurisdiction. Attorney General Brian Frosh recommends creating statewide rules governing how long a kit can be stored untested and developing model standards for how kits should be collected, tracked, stored, tested, destroyed and reported.
Frosh also suggests changing the consent form victims sign to allow rape kits to be tested even if the victim doesn’t want to prosecute.
“You know, there's a balance that has to be struck there,” Frosh said. “I don't think we want to be in a position where we're saying to a victim you must prosecute. But on the other hand, it's useful to know whether we have a match to somebody else who's been involved in a sexual assault."
Frosh also recommends requiring victims be kept informed when their kits are tested and told of the results.
At least a few of the nine proposed policy changes will need to be approved by the General Assembly, which reconvenes in Annapolis next week.