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Steps made toward justice

In Ohio, more than 9,000 rape kits went untested for DNA matches until Attorney General Mike DeWine launched an initiative in 2011 to bring sexual criminals to justice.

DeWine launched the initiative after learning that dozens of law enforcement agencies across the state were in possession of rape kits, some of which were decades old, that had never been sent to a DNA lab for testing.

As of this month, Forensic scientists with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) have completed testing on a total of 9,832 of the kits, resulting in 3,565 hits in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

That has led to the indictment of hundreds of defendants who may never have been caught otherwise.

Another step in the right direction was the passing of Senate Bill 316. That bill, which went into effect on March 23, 2015, now requires Ohio law enforcement agencies to submit any remaining previously untested sexual assault kits associated with a past crime to a crime laboratory within one year. The law also requires that all newly collected rape kits be submitted to a crime lab within 30 days after law enforcement determines a crime has been committed.

For victims of sexual assault, an already traumatic and life-changing experience, the process of undergoing a rape examination can also be invasive and upsetting.

For those kits to then not be tested is inexcusable. Thankfully, the sexual assault testing initiative is one step closer to giving victims justice and it shows that they have not been forgotten about.