By Spencer Whitney
For the last few months, Oakland resident David Chin has been combing over data and research from FBI crime statistics in efforts to find out why there is such an enormous backlog of over 400,000 untested rape kits sitting in law enforcement storage facilities.
The victims of sexual assault are asked to submit DNA evidence from their bodies, which are stored in small packages known as rape kits and can be used to identify a perpetrator.
Chin is working to create a new foundation, tentatively named Healix, that will process the backlog of rape kits.
“This is a social justice (issue) that can be salvageable within our lifetime,” said Chin. “All it takes is time, money and people actively working to process the kits. There is enough DNA testing equipment available, it just doesn’t seem like a priority for law enforcement.”
Chin works as an information technology engineer for Resource Development Associates in Oakland. The idea for his foundation came from a desire to see perpetrators of sexual assaults pay for their crimes after a close friend of his was sexually attacked.
The perpetrator has yet to be apprehended.
“Our goal is to end the backlog of rape kits. Healix will focus on bringing more awareness to the prevention of sexual crimes especially on college campuses. We also want to build a system for DNA testing that would prevent further backlogs from occurring in the future.”
The name Healix is a play on words referring to the double helix structure of DNA and the process it takes to help heal rape victims. While he is still researching the data on backlogged rape kits, Chin hopes to find the answers about the lack of funding and exposure of the issue as well as questions regarding the varying prices associated with processing the rape kits.
Advocacy groups such as the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) have been working to pass new legislation aimed at ending the backlogs. The Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER) Act would require law enforcement to prioritize rape kit testing and account for the number of untested rape kits in their storage facilities, as well as create an online registry that would allow victims to get real-time updates of their rape kit status.
“Ending the backlog is just the stepping stone to conquering bigger problems,” said Chin. “If we can change the way people think about the issue, we can start making a difference.”