Today, Utah becomes the second state in the Mountain West to implement a system that lets victims check the status of their rape kits online.
Rape kits provide evidence for investigators after a sexual assault. But they often go untested or have high backlogs at police forensic units around the country. Now, a new database in Utah is allowing victims of sexual assault to track the kits as they travel from police department to forensic nurse to crime lab.
Laura De Vries is a victim advocate with the Utah Department of Public Safety. She said these programs create transparency and accountability.
"Information is extremely empowering for victims and survivors and often that's really what they're asking for. They just want to know what's going on," De Vries said.
Idaho started its tracking system last year and was one of the first of the now 13 states offering a similar program.
According to the national advocacy group End The Backlog, historically, sexual assault crimes weren’t prioritized at crime labs. That resulted in fewer analysts to do the testing. But now a wave of legislation across the country is pushing for tracking programs like these.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.