End the Backlog of Untested Rape Kits in the U.S.

by Joyful Heart Foundation
Oct 31, 2011

End the Backlog - Progress

Dear Joyful Hearts,

Thank you for you generous support over these past three months!  With your help, we’ve raised nearly $5,000 to help end the backlog of untested rape kits in the United States. We’d like to share with you some recent accomplishments that we’ve made towards reaching our goal to end the backlog, specifically as they relate to our work in Detroit, Michigan.

In 2010, Joyful Heart was asked by the National Institute of Justice and sexual assault teams in Detroit, including the Police Department, District Attorney’s Office and Detroit’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program to participate in the National Institute of Justice’s Strategic Approaches to Sexual Assault Kit Evidence action-research grant.

Over the last three years, Detroit has faced a dire economic, political and legal landscape, which has exacerbated an already significant backlog of untested kits. In 2008, the city’s Crime Lab shut down, resulting in the discovery of over 10,000 untested rape kits. The city’s unemployment rate is now officially 30% with city officials suggesting it is, in fact, closer to 50%. Nearly 50% of Detroit’s population is illiterate, and in 2011, Detroit ranked as the number one city for violent crimes in the United States, including rape.

Since we joined this collaborative partnership, we have helped to engage key stakeholders to identify factors that contributed to Detroit’s backlog and have begun to develop best practices for keeping victims informed and updated on the status of their backlogged kits.  

In addition to our advocacy work in Detroit, we are committed to ensuring the wellness of our collaborative partners.  This October, we offered our Heal the Healers programs to over 200 of individuals (law enforcement professionals, prosecutors, social workers, sexual assault nurses) who are working at our partner organizations Detroit. Heal the Healers workshops in Detroit are designed specifically to reduce the affects of vicarious trauma for those working in the sexual assault movement and to foster open communication and collaboration among the various stakeholders committed to eradicating Detroit’s backlog.  

Our Heal the Healers programs: educate professionals about vicarious trauma; shed light on how each of us can be impacted by witnessing and responding to the suffering of others; help professionals explore their own trauma exposure response; introduce self-care tools and practices; and provide positive connections with other professionals to create a community of support. 


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Organization Information

Joyful Heart Foundation

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.joyfulheartfoundation.org
Project Leader:
Joanna Colangelo
New York, NY United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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