2013-2014 Accomplishments Policy and Advocacy


Today, more than $4 million in state funds has been granted to Detroit to end its backlog. $150,000 has been raised in private funds to investigate leads and prosecute these crimes— a third of which has been solicited by Joyful Heart. 2,000 kits have been tested and 127 potential serial rapists identified. Michigan just enacted important legislation that mandates jurisdictions throughout the state to test all newly collected rape kits, an important step to prevent future backlogs.

In March, the Joyful Heart team, including Mariska, was honored to visit Detroit to celebrate this progress and address the work that is yet to come. Our visit included an event to help raise the funds needed for the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office to fully investigate and prosecute leads generated from rape kit testing; an educational visit and speech by Mariska to members of the Michigan legislature; and a press conference to update the community on the incredible progress being made in Detroit. Mariska also announced that she will be producing a documentary about the rape kit backlog, called Shelved, for which Joyful Heart will serve as a social action partner, counsel and beneficiary of the film. But the true highlight of our visit was meeting with the deeply dedicated community members who are putting not just their time and expertise—but their hearts—into ending Detroit's backlog.

Prosecutors anticipate that nearly 3,000 new cases will be generated from testing Detroit’s nearly 10,000 remaining kits. As they move forward into investigation, Joyful Heart will continue to advocate for funds and reform so that prosecutors have the resources they need to follow up on these cases and survivors can get the healing and justice they deserve. We will work with our local partners to ensure victim notification continues to be conducted with expertise, compassion and care. And we will continue to shine a bright light on Detroit to demonstrate to officials and lawmakers in other cities, states and the federal government that if Detroit can end its backlog, they can too.

“It feels so good to know that I may have been a victim, but I am now a survivor. Knowing my attacker is in prison is such a relief. My faith in the justice system is being restored. That chapter of my life is finally closed and I hope that thousands of other women will have the chance I did.”
- Survivor whose rape kit was
part of Detroit’s backlog

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