Montana received a grant and new guidelines to process rape kits - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Montana received a grant and new guidelines to process rape kits more effectively

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MISSOULA -

Montana received a grant and new guidelines to process rape kits more effectively.

The Coordinator of the Rape Kit Initiative, Joan Eliel, said that rape kits have not been changed for over a decade.

She said that the goal of this initiative is to make the process easier and faster for the victim.

Megan Ashton, Forensic Scientist, at the Montana State Crime Lab said that they are trying to simplify the rape kit by taking out unnecessary items.  

"One thing were actually looking to change is to take out the slides," said Ashton.

Ashton said that the slides are used to detect sperm.

But she said that the State Crime Lab and the nurses do not use the slides in the kit because the lab makes their own slides, so they don’t want to waste any sample.   

Ashton explained that hair samples are used to identify foreign hairs, but she said that they don't have a trace department at the lab anymore.

And she said that this is a painful process that they want to eliminate for the victim.

Ashton also said that they want to streamline the instructions in the kit.        

"There's all these instructions on here and we're going to try and take those off of the forms as much as possible and have all of the instructions on the evidence collection envelopes so that it is not duplicated," said Ashton.

Ashton said that when a serologist gets a kit they have to assign each envelope an item number and log it in the evidence tracking system

"They have to go through an inventory on every envelope that's in here and as you can see it is quite extensive," said Ashton.

Ashton said that they are hoping to make the process of investigation faster to decrease the backlog of rape kits.

"Our hope is that we really want to put the survivors more in control and let them know that we are listening to them," said Eliel.

The Department of Justice said that this is an ongoing process that should be done in about a year.

They are working on building a database that will allow the assault victim to track their own kit in the system because they want the survivors to know that they are the ones in control and that they are the ones being listened to.

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