KIYC investigative documentary drawing bipartisan call for NJ to test rape kits

Kane In Your Corner's investigative documentary "Victims of the System" has now drawn bipartisan support for testing all rape kits once survivors authorize testing.

Walt Kane

Jun 13, 2024, 9:13 PM

Updated 38 days ago

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In “Victims of the System,” Kane In Your Corner found New Jersey has one of the worst records in the U.S. when it comes to testing.
Kane In Your Corner's investigative documentary "Victims of the System" has now drawn bipartisan support for testing all rape kits once survivors authorize testing. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Bucco (R-Denville) has joined Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Ocean Township) in calling for New Jersey to test the kits.
In a primetime documentary, Kane In Your Corner exposed that New Jersey has among the worst records in the nation when it comes to testing rape kits. One in 3 kits that survivors release to law enforcement are never tested, even though the survivors want them to be. New Jersey is one of only a dozen states that still allows prosecutors to override survivors' wishes and refuse to test kits.
KANE IN YOUR CORNER: Victims of the System
In a written statement, Bucco said: "When victims are forced to wait months, and sometimes even years to have their rape kits tested, their justice is being denied. Failing to promptly process these kits only prolongs the trauma felt by rape and sexual assault survivors. Addressing this alarming backlog is critical in supporting victims through their healing process and aiding in the swift apprehension of perpetrators.”
Earlier this week, Gopal responded to the Kane In Your Corner investigation by saying, “The brave individuals who relive the trauma of their assault during a forensic examination deserve answers and the assurance that their kits will be tested in a timely fashion ... Testing all kits is critical in cases involving serial offenders to ensure justice for survivors."
The New Jersey Office of the Attorney General contends it's not necessary to test all kits because survivors can identify their attackers in most cases, making DNA evidence irrelevant. Advocates for rape survivors say that view is shortsighted because many rapists are serial offenders.
When prosecutors in Wayne County, Michigan, tested 11,341 backlogged rape kits, they closed 4,029 investigations, identified 841 serial rapists and put 239 sex offenders behind bars. Advocates contend New Jersey could see similar results if every kit that survivors authorized to be tested was tested.
Ilse Knecht, director of policy and advocacy for the Joyful Heart Foundation, also says testing the kits would send a message to survivors that New Jersey is taking their cases seriously. "The kit, sitting on a shelf, untested, is really a demonstration of how the criminal justice system treats sexual assault," she says.
This weekend, Senior Investigative Reporter Walt Kane will host a special edition of New Jersey Power and Politics dedicated to the issues raised by his investigation. The show can be watched on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and Sunday at 11:30 a.m.


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