If anyone can think of a good explanation for this outrage, please enlighten me.
Massachusetts has a 15-year statute of limitations on prosecuting sexual assault crimes, but the state only requires that untested rape kits be stored for six months. No state currently provides the victim of an alleged sexual assault the right to require a jurisdiction to retain a rape kit until the statute of limitations expires, and only six states and Washington, D.C., provide a right for the prompt processing of a rape kit.
How can this be? Why wouldn’t it be obvious that as long as it is possible that rape charges can be brought, the relevant rape kit must be preserved?
Legislators and state officials around the country have worked in recent years to try to clear a backlog of untested rape kits [like the photo above] , spending millions of dollars to do so. But officials in states like Colorado, Kentucky and North Carolina are increasingly disclosing that it’s not uncommon for labs to have to trashed untested kits — in some cases, illegally.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) told HuffPo, “It really makes no sense to have 15 years in which the survivors can bring charges against someone, and then to destroy the evidence that’s going to be so critical to convicting them, in a six-month period.” She has introduced a bill this week called the Sexual Assault Survivors Act, creating a right for women to have their rape kit preserved free of charge for the duration of their state’s statute of limitations; the right to be notified of the information found in medical forensic examinations; and the right to get, in writing, the policies governing a rape kit. Why would anyone oppose such a law? Why isn’t there a law like this already?
Any state—and so far, that’s all of them—that doesn’t automatically preserve a rape kit in a pending rape investigation or allegation until prosecution is complete or impossible is unethically making it easier to get away with rape, and more difficult for victims to get justice. The ethical values being breached are responsibility, justice, fairness, caring, and empathy, but most of all, competence. This is stupid. This is obviously stupid.
At some point, the distinction articulated by Hanlon’s Razor—“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”—becomes moot. For governments, allowing obvious stupidity is malicious.