System to prevent rape kit backlog in Wisconsin goes live Friday

by Site staff

MADISON, Wis. — A new system designed to prevent any future backlog of rape test kits in Madison that was stalled for years before being signed into law in December goes live on Friday.

Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes, Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett and a sexual assault nurse joined Attorney General Josh Kaul Wednesday to remind people of the upcoming date.

The law sets time requirements for nurses and police to collect, gather and send rape kits to the state if a victim requests it. It also creates an electronic database allowing survivors to privately track their kits.

“This is really transformative for our response to sexual assault in Wisconsin,” Kaul said in a news conference Wednesday. “We are taking steps on multiple fronts to make sure that we never have a backlog of untested sexual assault kits in Wisconsin again.”

Wisconsin cleared a backlog of thousands of untested kits — some of which have led to arrests — in 2019.  Madison helped run a pilot program to test how the system would work.

“In the criminal justice system, where we commonly place the focus on the offender in the investigation, Wisconsin Act 116 is a historical step toward shifting the paradigm toward our victims and survivors,” Barrett said.

State Sen. Melissa Agard called the new system a “game-changer.”

If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, there are resources available to help. The Rape Crisis Center can be reached at 608-251-7273 or online at

AG Kaul speaks on new sexual assault kit law taking effect