rapetestkits 060922CHICAGO – For the first time since 2019, the number of sexual assault kits awaiting testing, also referred to as the DNA backlog, has been eliminated, announced State Senator Patricia Van Pelt.

After decades of extensive sexual assault forensic backlogs, the number of pending sexual assault forensic assignments older than 180 days, which was once more than 1,800, has reached zero.

“The reduction of this backlog has been a long time coming, and I am so glad that there are no more outstanding sexual assault kits,” said Van Pelt (D-Chicago). “Families have spent years waiting for some kind of answer—for some kind of accountability for their loved ones that have been lost—and today I am thinking of what this progress means for them.”

Since the revelation of the backlog in 2019, Van Pelt has held hearings on the state’s DNA backlog, evaluating Illinois State Police’s methods and timeline for testing kits.

ISP has since implemented new strategies to quicken the turnaround time, including the use of forensic technologies and robotics, in addition to hiring more forensic scientists who work collaboratively rather than analyzing data independently.

During the last two years, ISP has reduced its total forensic backlog by about 72%, according to the governor’s office.

“The evolution of technology was essential to aiding law enforcement and forensic scientists lower the backlog,” Van Pelt said. “The elimination of the backlog is a weight being lifted off so many of our shoulders.”

ISP launched a publicly available web-based dashboard to provide information on processing times and backlogs, which is available on the ISP Forensics Reports website.

Further, ISP has also implemented an online Sexual Assault Tracking feature that allows survivors of sexual assault to monitor their evidence online throughout the entire process, from collection at the hospital, through law enforcement pick-up and submission to the forensic lab, and lastly to the state's attorney's office where final results are received.