The NIJ said its survey did not reveal how many untested kits would have benefited from analysis.
Sarah Tofte, director of advocacy and policy for the Joyful Heart Foundation, a rape victims advocacy group founded by actress Mariska Hargitay of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” cited a 2006 Justice Department report estimating a nationwide backlog of 180,000 untested rape kits. Tofte said she suspects that is low because it relies largely on voluntary reports from law-enforcement agencies.
Tofte and others said rape kits can go untested for several reasons, including the cost of DNA analysis, which ranges from $800 to $1,500 per kit. She also noted that when the victim quickly identifies the alleged assailant as someone she knows, police sometimes do not send the kits for testing.
Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky, chairman of the Department of Sciences at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said other factors include a lack of trained personnel and lab space, but added there is no excuse for not testing.
“A crime is being committed while that kit sits there,” he said.
In the documentary’s closing sequence, Alexenko returns to the apartment building where she was brutalized in 1993, triumphant and confident.
“I feel genuinely fortunate that my case came full circle against all odds,” Alexenko said. “So I feel like it’s my duty to go out there and make certain I can help other individuals who are going through a similar situation.”