With your help, we were able to raise over $10,000 to help put an end to the backlog of rape kits! We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support! This is far more than we ever expected to raise and confirms our suspicions that you all are some of the most caring and warm people on this planet
For the first quarter of 2017, we will be accepting donations in lieu of tips (Why we don’t accept tips anymore) and 5% of ALL revenue to the END THE BACKLOG initiative, a program of the Joyful Heart Foundation. Whether the revenue is from club sales, repairs, range time or beer, 5% will go to supporting this very worthy cause.
When the team at Eagle Club Indoor Golf sat down to choose a non-profit, we made the decision to support one that A) benefits people outside the normal golf population, and B) one where we, as a small business in the golf industry, could make a real impact. There were several that fit these parameters, so as we weighed the merits of each, we got into some heavy discussions. When we dug deeper into END THE BACKLOG and its mission, we realized being a part of this would be helping to address the issues of gender inequality and of our society’s rape culture. With this in mind, we made the unanimous decision to support END THE BACKLOG, and do what we can to help raise awareness.
Mariska Hargitay (the founder and president of the Joyful Heart Foundation and Detective Benson on Law and Order: SVU) said, “…the backlog is one of the clearest and most shocking demonstrations of how we regard these crimes in our society. Testing rape kits sends a fundamental and crucial message to victims of sexual violence: You matter. What happened to you matters. Your case matters.”
What is the Backlog?
The backlog is hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits th
at are sitting in police and crime lab storage facilities across the country. The backlog is a result of stretched resources, and the low priority rape kit testing is given by law enforcement. In the many jurisdictions where there is no law or policy that mandates the testing of all collected rape kits, whether or not a kit is tested is based on the discretion of police or prosecutors. Lack of knowledge about the power of DNA testing, misunderstanding about sex offenders and their patterns, and bias and victim-blaming lead to the vast majority of cases being closed prematurely and rape kits never being sent to a lab for testing.
DNA is a powerful law enforcement tool for solving and preventing crime. Despite proving to be an effective way of identifying dangerous offenders—many of whom are serial offenders and commit all kinds of crime—and making our community safer, rape kit testing is not prioritized in our country. Currently, many states do not require law enforcement to count or track kits, labs to test kits within a certain timeframe, or to notify survivors about the status of the case. Rape kits sit untouched in storage warehouses for months or years—sometimes decades—without ever being processed. Survivors go through an extensive, invasive, and lengthy rape kit evidence collection process only to have the kit sit neglected on shelves in evidence facilities. A heinous crime should not be followed by the indifference of law enforcement agencies. This lack of focus on supporting the victim and prosecuting the perpetrators is the definition of injustice, and must stop.
Why We’re Supporting this Campaign as a Golf Facility
Change typically only comes about when there’s a demand for it. When you look at the core causes of the backlog, you begin to see why it is imperative that the demand for change come faster for this issue. The backlog of untested rape kits represents the failure of the criminal justice system to take sexual assault seriously, to protect survivors, and hold offenders accountable. Our culture normalizes sexual assault and our criminal justice system has become too comfortable with delaying or avoiding punishment for perpetrators. Complacency towards crimes of this nature cannot and should never be the norm.
You’ve heard the old saying, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” This could not be more true for the rape kit backlog. We’d be perpetuating the problem by sitting idly by. No longer. No more. We can fix this together.
We believe the much-needed demand for change can come about faster if it comes from a large group that is made up of people of character and of action. We know golfers are such a group of people.
It’s Not a Women’s Issue Alone
While the rape kit backlog primarily affects women, we also see this as a men’s issue. We know that the majority of men are not violent, but they are often silent about the violence and abuse that other men perpetrate. Every man has a role to play in ending violence against women and disrupting the conditions that perpetuate violence.
Research shows that rapists are also serial criminals. They commit crimes against people they know and people they don’t know. They victimize men, women, and children of all ages. They commit all kinds of crime from larceny, to car jacking, to rape and murder. They are a danger to all of us.
Will this Change Anything?
Yes! END THE BACKLOG has won several victories towards ending this problem after some cities reported backlogs in the thousands. Detroit, for example, had a backlog of 11,341 untested rape kits, which they were able to process after an advocacy campaign supported by Joyful Heart yielded funding from the federal government. As of September 2016, Detroit has tested approximately 10,000 kits, resulting in 2,616 DNA matches and the identification of 770 potential serial rapists, and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office has obtained 60 convictions. DNA from the kits tested linked to crimes committed in 40 states and Washington, D.C.
Through END THE BACKLOG, Joyful Heart is working to identify jurisdictions with rape kit backlogs and to assist them with developing and implementing
survivor-centered reforms. Through The Accountability Project, Joyful Heart uncovers the number of untested rape kits in cities across the country. So far, END THE BACKLOG has uncovered over 175,000 rape kits across the country, nearly 33,500 of which were revealed through The Accountability Project. As jurisdictions become clear about the scope of their problem, they can move forward with clearing their backlogs, identifying and prosecuting offenders, and re-engaging survivors whose kits were untested for years or even decades.
Joyful Heart is also working to pass legislation in every state to ensure that all previously untested kits are pulled off the shelf and sent to the crime lab for testing. They are also pushing reform bills that mandate the swift testing of all new rape kits so that the backlog never happens again. The very act of processing a rape kit in a timely manner demonstrates that we, as a society, care about what happened to a survivor.
Calling on the Golf Industry
We’re calling on others in the golf industry to join us in bringing attention to this so we can end the backlog together. As we are a group of people made up of the movers and shakers of the world, we are people of character who will not stand for an injustice of this kind. We have the opportunity to help create real change by adding our support to push forward the great work of END THE BACKLOG and the Joyful Heart Foundation. We appreciate your helping to raise awareness, donating funds, and more importantly, demanding our lawmakers prioritize the backlog in the federal, state, and local budgets. We encourage you to contact Michael Sharratt firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how your golf facility can participate in the nationwide Drive-A-Thon fundraising event we’re planning for April.