Legislation introduced to eliminate the rape kit backlog

Could it be? A rare moment of bipartisan commitment to fighting violence against women? Today, lawmakers introduced legislation to help fix the unacceptable backlog of untested rape kits.

“Democrats and Republicans identified a serious problem and they have come together to have a common sense solution,” said Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., one of four legislators — two from each part — who co-sponsored the bill and spoke about it after its introduction today.

There are an estimated 400,000 kits currently backlogged in the United States and one major reason is a lack of funding for local police. This bill will allow local law enforcement to apply for the funds they say are needed to test every rape kit.

“Those are 400,000 victims of criminal conduct,” said Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas. “That is a number. But each one represents a real person.”

The sponsors are hoping that the bill, which is endorsed by more than 100 anti-sexual violence organizations, can get passed by the end of the year. Forgive me for sounding pessimistic, but given that the GOP won’t even support the Violence Against Women Act, I’ll believe that when I see it.

You can go to RAINN to tell your legislators that supporting this bill is a no-brainer.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/nena/ Nena

    If anyone’s curious, here’s a link to the legislation that was introduced today, as well as all other relevant legislation:
    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:HR06628:|/home/LegislativeData.php|

  • http://feministing.com/members/vicdemone/ Randy Lahey

    Most rape kits go untested for one reason: they can provide no useful or meaningful information to further a criminal investigation or prosecution. In a large majority of rape cases, the identity of the alleged perpetrator is known to the victim. Likewise, that there was sexual contact between the two is rarely in dispute. Couple this with the fact that victims frequently stop cooperating with police or prosecutors (or refuse to press charges to begin with), and it makes most rape kits useless.