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The Next Steps for Pa.’s Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Tracking System

System would provide victims with real-time updates, location of their kits

October 10, 2023

The Pennsylvania state police have released a new report looking at potential options for a system to track the processing of sexual assault evidence kits.

Passed last year, House Bill 2032 required the state police to conduct a study and issue a report on a potential statewide sexual assault kit tracking system. The initiative seeks to provide more timely tracking of these kits and provide support to victims looking for updates on the processing of them.

HAP—in partnership with the Pennsylvania Coalition to Advance Respect (formerly known as the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape)—supported the passage of House Bill 2032. The legislation resolved a technical conflict faced by health care providers when a victim chooses to remain anonymous per the Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection Act (SATEC).

“The goal of this report is to assist the (commonwealth) in making improvements to the process of tracking sexual assault kits to ultimately allow survivors of sexual assault to become empowered with knowledge of where their rape kits are at any given time after collection,” the state report noted.

Among the key takeaways from the report: 

  • Purpose:  The state is seeking a system that would allow sexual assault victims to log in at any time to see the status of their evidence kit. It would show victims where their kit is located from time of collection to when it is submitted to law enforcement through testing and analysis.
  • State needs:  Pennsylvania will need a system that is customizable to its regulations; large enough to handle the number of users; and has the capability to allow victims to view the location and real-time status of their kits.
    • The cost of the system will vary depending on the type of service selected (open source, commercial off-the-shelf systems, etc.).
  • Key element:  Participation and collaboration from health care, law enforcement, and laboratories will ensure the system works as it should.
  • Management:  Law enforcement plays a central role in the analysis and processing of the kits. The state police report suggests another agency may be the best option to manage the overall system, which would require additional legislative action.
  • Quotable:  “It is imperative we remember that processing sexual assault kits to aid investigations and bring justice and closure to victims is the most important thing (Pennsylvania State Police) can do,” the report notes.

HAP provided feedback on the state report related to the necessary resources and training; the costs and funding associated with the tracking system; and the benefits to victims and public safety.

The state report is available online.