On average, six months in Rhode Island, Alabama and Illinois. It can take nearly a year in Missouri. Up to three years in Anchorage, Alaska. One state, Louisiana, has rape kits dating as far back as 2001 waiting to be tested.
That's what David Lisak found. An expert on rape at the University of Massachusetts, he says research shows that 71 percent of rapists are repeat offenders.
We're talking active criminal investigations here. I want to be clear on this. A woman is raped and (is one of the few who) actually reports it, and has a rape kit done. (Not clear on what a rape kit is? It collects evidence and is done by a medical professional. Fingernail scrappings, hair, semen, mouth swabs, etc. are collected, and photos can be taken at that time too.) She reports the rape and hopes the justice system will work for her ... only to find out that the rape kit she submitted to has been sitting around in a lab for a year (or longer!) while the rapist is walking around, free. That is what is going on.
Here's a sadly perfect example, also from the CBS story:
"Do I think that the person has not committed any sexual assaults in between those nine years," Redding asked? "Not in my life as a prosecutor for 30 years.
In the end, Redding got DNA matches on eight of the 35 cases, charging all eight with rapes.
CBS has a whole series of stories about rape that were published this week. Definitely worth reading the above links and "Rape in America: Justice denied," which itself includes a number of useful links, such as FBI stats, RAINN help, date rape myths and more.
Given all this, I think it's worth picking up a phone or sending an e-mail to your representatives and urging them to pass the Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault Act of 2009 legislation. Find contact information for your Senators here, and for your House representative here or here.