Program areas at JHF
See schedule oadvocacysince 2010, the elimination of the backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in the united states has been a top priority for Joyful Heart. We work in partnership at the federal, state, and local levels with legislators, advocates, law enforcement, and survivors to bring attention, funding, and reforms to improve the criminal justice response to sexual assault. Through strategic advocacy and educational campaigns, we are working to enact comprehensive rape kit reform legislation, establish survivor-centered policies, and expand the national dialogue about rape kit testing.in 2019, we worked closely with on-the-ground partners in 23 states and as a result, 25 rape kit reform laws were enacted in 21 states and Washington d.c. (ak, ar, ca, id, il, in, ky, ma, md, mt, nv, nj, nm, nc, ok, pa, tx, va, wa, wv, and wy). We wrote 19 official letters of support in 12 states (ca, il, ky, md, nv, ny, nc, ok, sc, tx, wi, and wv). We also provided verbal or email organizational support in the other states, including written and in-person testimony in support of Maryland's s.b. 767, and in support of California's s.b. 22. Both bills were enacted. We also worked on bills supporting survivors' rights and elimination of the statute of limitations in 2019. For two consecutive years, Joyful Heart supported California assembly bill 218, which eliminates the statute of limitations for childhood sexual assault. The bill passed the legislature and was signed by the governor. Joyful Heart was asked to weigh in on north carolina senate bill 199, extending the statute of limitations, among other sexual assault law reforms. The bill was also signed into law. Joyful Heart supported erin's law in new york that removed the limit on the emphasis of child abduction prevention in sexual abuse education. The law passed after multiple attempts at passage over 8 years. Joyful Heart, through our pro bono law firm goodwin llp, issued freedom of information act requests to 15 police departments in Massachusetts inquiring about the agencies' untested kits. These requests were in response to the june release of the statewide inventory that Joyful Heart helped bring to fruition through legislation. While previous estimates from state stakeholders on the number of untested kits numbered in the thousands, the official number released from the state was 387. I am evidence, the documentary film produced by our founder & president, mariska hargitay continued to contribute to our advocacy efforts as a winner of numerous awards, including best documentary emmy. The documentary was also honored at the dupont-columbia awards at columbia university, and the american bar association's 62nd silver gavel awards for media and the arts at the national press club for recognizing outstanding public efforts to foster public understanding of the law and legal system. Joyful Heart also engaged the general public in ending the backlog through media coverage and social media platforms. On average, our staff responds to 20-30 media requests from national and local media per month. In 2019, we issued more than 15 state-focused press releases on backlog-related milestones. In 2019, Joyful Heart encouraged a thriving social media community: on facebook, twitter, and instagram, our content has racked up more than 14.6 million impressions. We used our social media platforms to highlight issues and national news stories, lift up survivor voices, and engage our activist community in our ongoing progress to end the backlog.