MASON CITY, Iowa - Every 73 seconds in the U.S., someone commits a sexual assault, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, and many survivors may not be aware of whether or not their rape kit had been tested.
Now, the state of Iowa is implementing a tracking system.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller commissioned STACS DNA to develop such a system last November. Now, the Track-Kit system will follow the kit from collection at the hospital, to pick up by law enforcement, delivery to the crime lab for analysis, and back to law enforcement.
Matty Tate-Smith with the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CASA) says the tracking expands the level of transparency for survivors.
"As you can imagine, this can cause additional unnecessary anxiety and confusion for survivors. With that being said, we commend the Iowa Attorney General's office for taking the initiative to develop a system that empowers survivors by putting control back into a victim's hands."
In addition, Miller says the software will help reduce a backlog of untested kits, and improve confidence in investigations, as they work to bring assailants to justice.
"We think that this is something that's important and helpful and is friendly to the survivors who were forgotten in the system for a long time."
Iowa is now the 7th state to use the Track-Kit system. In addition, Iowa is the first state to allow sexual assault nurse examiners to scan the kits using cameras on their phones, which can save valuable time.
The Crime Victim Assistance Division received a nearly $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to develop and implement the software.