OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (KSWO) – An Oklahoma Task Force on Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence has been established to address the backlog of sexual assault forensic evidence kits, commonly known as rape kits, in the criminal justice system in Oklahoma.
"Sexual assault is a horrific crime, and we should do everything we can to support the survivors," said Governor Mary Fallin. "This new task force will examine all facets of the issue of sexual assault and sexual assault forensic evidence kits to ensure that victims are able to seek justice and begin the healing process. I thank Senator Kay Floyd for her work on this issue, and I look forward to seeing the results of the task force. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so it is especially appropriate that we move forward on this important subject."
Currently, Oklahoma does not have a statewide tracking system for rape kits nor a mandate to test all rape kits. Only a quarter of rape kits are tested, leaving thousands of untested kits in police department warehouses across the state.
"Joyful Heart stands with the tireless advocates who have fought for justice in Oklahoma, and we applaud Governor Fallin for taking this important step toward giving survivors an opportunity at long-awaited justice," said Ilse Knecht, director of policy and advocacy, Joyful Heart Foundation. "When the extent of a state's backlog of untested rape kits is revealed, real reform can begin. After law enforcement agencies account for the untested kits in their custody, communities can begin to take steps to test those kits, hold offenders accountable, and bring justice to sexual assault survivors whose cases have languished, often for years—or even decades."
"Thank you, Governor Mary Fallin, for your support and leadership in turning SB 654 into an executive order," said Danielle Tudor, a rape survivor advocate and activist from Bixby. "It represents the beginning of hope and healing for sexual assault survivors in our state."