Massachusetts rolls out new system to track rape kits
By Tamara Sacharczyk | February 24, 2020
When someone is raped there’s no yellow tape, no evidence markers and no K-9 unit. Instead, their body becomes the crime scene containing critical evidence that could differentiate innocence from guilt.
That’s why evidence kits, also known as rape kits, are essential in these investigations. Those kits have been backlogged in the past across the country, taking days, weeks and even months to process while the survivors are left in dark.
That’ll no longer be the case in Massachusetts, thanks to a new system called Track-Kit™.
The state rolled out the new system in southeastern Massachusetts last month and it’ll go live in the rest of the state on Monday.
The software was created by a company called STACS DNA and is now being implemented in seven states across the United States.
“Track-Kit is a system that is accessed by users across the state for tracking sexual assault kits from the time they’re collected to the time that they’re stored,” said Heather Macintosh, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing.
Here’s how it works.
Every rape kit is given a bar code that’s linked to a confidential online system. Medical professionals, law enforcement and the sexual assault survivor will be able to log onto the system 24/7 to track the kit’s location as it’s transferred from the hospital to the police agency to the crime lab. They can also see when the evidence has been processed.
Michelle Loranger is the executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Bristol County.
She also served on the Governor’s Council for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, which helped craft a 2018 law requiring the state to implement a system that could track newly collected rape kits.
“I think the biggest change and the most beneficial change is that sexual assault victims themselves now have an opportunity to see where the kit is at,” Loranger said. “We really want to make it easier for survivors to have access to information that they deserve.”