Bipartisan House Bill Addresses Nationwide Rape Kit Backlog

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There are greater than 100,000 rape kits sitting untested in police storage items throughout the nation. California has almost 14,000 untested rape kits, Texas simply over 6,000 and New Jersey round 1,200. In a number of states the variety of untested rape kits is totally unknown on account of an absence of oversight and reporting.

The Rape Package Backlog Act, a bipartisan invoice launched Wednesday, is designed to alter that. The invoice, whose particulars have been shared completely with HuffPost, was launched by Reps. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and seeks to enhance reporting necessities on the variety of untested rape kits in every state.

“My life was fully upended once I was raped at 16 years previous. It took years to regain my voice as a survivor,” Mace instructed HuffPost in an announcement. “In the present day, over 100,000 girls throughout the nation can’t regain their voice as a result of their rape equipment sits unprocessed on a shelf, depriving these girls of their due course of and talent to get justice. It’s unacceptable.”

A rape equipment, also called a sexual assault equipment, is created throughout a medical examination to gather bodily proof left on a survivor’s physique after an assault. As soon as a rape equipment is compiled at a hospital, it’s despatched to police to be examined for DNA, which might then be used to prosecute the attacker and, in some circumstances, establish serial predators. However rape kits ― which value $1,000 to $1,500 to check ― usually find yourself sitting untested in legislation enforcement amenities across the nation on account of insufficient sources or funding.

The invoice would require state and native governments to report whether or not or not they’ve carried out a complete stock of rape kits of their possession. The stock would establish the bodily location of the kits, whether or not they’re examined or untested, and evaluate if the outcomes of examined kits have been uploaded right into a database known as the Mixed DNA Index System (CODIS), which in lots of states permits survivors to trace their rape equipment.

The laws doesn’t present new funds to states however as a substitute brings crucial oversight to a difficulty that has been plaguing the justice system for many years. State and native companies will likely be mandated to finish the reporting necessities yearly. If an company doesn’t meet the annual requirement, it can grow to be ineligible to make use of the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Help Grant, which is the main supply of federal justice funding to state and native governments.

“The Rape Package Backlog Progress Act is a vital step in the direction of accountability and transparency in addressing the backlog disaster,” Mace stated. “By mandating reporting of complete inventories and monitoring the add of outcomes into CODIS, we’re empowering legislation enforcement companies to swiftly establish perpetrators and convey them to justice. Collectively, we will combat for a system which prioritizes survivors and ensures that no equipment is left untested.”

Testing rape kits is necessary for a number of causes. A equipment can establish an unknown perpetrator or affirm the presence of a identified suspect. A rape equipment can even affirm a survivor’s account of an assault, assist resolve different circumstances which may not contain sexual violence and exonerate harmless folks. And it may well join a suspect to different crimes across the nation.

The rape equipment backlog hit the general public consciousness within the final decade largely due to the work of a program known as Finish the Backlog, a marketing campaign created by the nonprofit Joyful Coronary heart Basis, which, together with the Rape, Abuse & Incest Nationwide Community, has endorsed Mace and Lee’s invoice. At the very least 225,000 untested rape kits have been found within the final 10 years, in accordance with Finish the Backlog.

“When a survivor goes to authorities to get a sexual assault equipment administered, they’ve performed their half to search out justice. It’s previous time for states to do the identical,” Stefan Turkheimer, interim vp of public coverage for RAINN, instructed HuffPost. “This invoice will shine a light-weight on these untested kits, every one among which represents a human being who went via an terrible trauma and deserves their likelihood at justice.”

Scroll beneath to learn the Rape Package Backlog Act in full.

Need assistance? Go to RAINN’s Nationwide Sexual Assault On-line Hotline or the Nationwide Sexual Violence Useful resource Middle’s web site.

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