Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star Mariska Hargitay held a news conference in Detroit on Monday to raise awareness about the backlog of rape kits across the state, which are unable to be processed because the county prosecutor’s office is “severely understaffed” due to budget cuts, the Detroit News reported.
Hargitay and her organization, the Joyful Heart Foundation are hoping to help in making a difference on the issue. Hargitay described the backlog problem as “the clearest and most shocking demonstration of how we regard these crimes in our country,” as reported by The Associated Press. She and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy introduced legislation that would put processes and timelines in place for the processing of rape kits, and allow for greater input from victims.
“Every day in the United States women and men take the courageous step of reporting their rape to the police,” Hargitay said Monday. She added “And because of what those individuals have suffered, their bodies are crime scenes. They’re living, breathing, feeling crime scenes from which doctors and nurses collect evidence in a sexual assault collection kit.”