"Law & Order: SVU" star Mariska Hargitay is producing a documentary set in Detroit on the rape kit backlog.
The documentary, titled "Shelved," is set to begin production this week.
Hargitay joined Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy on Monday during a press conference to discuss proposed legislation that would speed up sexual assault kit testing today.
“I’m here in Detroit because I think we have such an awesome opportunity … this is unprecedented territory we’re going into," Hargitay said.
Rape kits, and the DNA it provides are critical for a conviction. On Monday, Hargitay was in Detroit pushing for rape kit reform.
"If you guys do it here in Detroit, if you do it here in Michigan, the rest of the country can figure it out," Hargitay said.
More than 11,000 untested kits dating back 25 years were found in 2009 in a Detroit Police Department storage facility. The kits contain documentation, supplies for technicians, swabs and other items to collect samples.
Worthy has been pushing for more funding to process the backlog of kits.
Hargitay, who founded The Joyful Heart Foundation to help survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, will use the organization to serve as a social action partner, counsel and beneficiary on the film. She says that not having the rape kits ready allows more rapes to occur because the criminals know that their DNA won't be captured.
Detroit is the first city in the country to make such profound reforms in sexual assault kit legislation.
"Here is the place to do it, this is the city to do it," Hargitay said. "You guys know how, here's where the progress is. It's inspiring."
The bill is hoped to take into effect by 2015 with specific timelines for kit pickups by cops and testing in labs.