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State begins rollout of tracking system for rape kits

Office of the Washtenaw County Prosecutor

Michigan has launched a web-based tracking system for rape kits. It allows sexual assault survivors to make sure their rape kit has not been lost or abandoned.

The system was inspired by familiar package delivery tracking systems where packages are scanned and their locations monitored, according to Debi Cain, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Division of Victim Services and co-chair of the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board.

The goal of the tracking system is to let sexual assault survivors follow their rape kit through each step of the investigative process. 

"They can log into the system confidentially," said Cain. "And it tells them exactly where their kit is: what stage it's at and who the actual people are by name who are handling that kit." 

"They're really three stages," said Cain. "There's the medical facility. Law enforcement picking up the kit. And then law enforcement saying, 'we've now sent it to the lab.'"

Cain said it also reports when the lab has tested the kit and sent the results to law enforcement.

The new system was developed in response to the thousands of untested and abandoned rape kits discovered in Detroit and across the state since 2009.

Cain said the annual cost of the system is estimated at $700,000.

The system has been rolled out in 10 counties, and statewide implementation is expected this summer.

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