Rape Kit | KERA News

Rape Kit

The University of Texas says it has developed the first-ever guide to help police departments and communities notify victims about results of their sexual assault kits.

Six years ago, a newly minted graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago was working three part-time jobs and adjusting to life not as a student. She stopped in for a drink one night at a restaurant in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood, where she got into a conversation with a guy. The next thing she remembers clearly was awakening at home the next morning, aching, covered in bruises, with a swollen lip.

Texas House Passes Bill To Tackle Backlog Of Rape Kits

Apr 17, 2019

The Texas House unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that aims to tackle the state’s backlog of thousands of untested rape kits. House Bill 8 requires an audit of untested rape kits to determine the number, status and location of all rape kits in the state.

Forensic analyst India Henry uses an ultraviolet light to look for evidence of semen on a pair of panties from a sexual assault case in the biology lab at the Houston Forensic Science Center Thursday, April 2, 2015, in Houston.
Associated Press

The 86th Texas Legislature is underway, and one group of state lawmakers say they are determined to make sure public safety needs in rural areas are better met, especially when it comes to the state’s backlog of rape evidence kits.  

From Texas Standard:

The next Texas legislative session kicks off in less than a week, and one issue facing lawmakers will be how to address the backlog of about 15,000 untested rape kits. One solution lawmakers proposed during the last session was to give Texans the option to donate to a fund for kit testing when applying for, or renewing a driver's license or vehicle registration. Texans did donate, and the state collected more than $560,000.

A sexual assault evidence collection kit is checked in by a forensic analyst for testing in the biology lab at the Houston Forensic Science Center Thursday, April 2, 2015, in Houston.
Associated Press

Officials say Texas drivers donated more than $560,000 to clear a backlog of untested rape kits but the state can't find enough cities and counties to take the money.

Todd Wiseman

A state law that crowdfunds money for rape kit testing has collected almost a quarter-million dollars in its first five months, according to the bill's author, state Rep. Victoria Neave.

Across the country, there's a backlog of kits containing potential evidence of sexual assaults. Victim advocates say the situation threatens public safety. Lawmakers in dozens of states are pushing for funding, and in Texas, one state representative has offered an innovative solution.

Thousands of rape kits sit sealed and untested in forensics labs and law enforcement offices in Texas. What's missing is state and local funding to pay to analyze the evidence in many of those kits.

Shutterstock

The top local stories this evening from KERA News:

The Texas House today gave preliminary approval to a bill that would address the backlog of untested rape kits in the state. The bill aims to essentially crowdfund money for testing DNA evidence from sexual assault cases – thousands of kits have not been tested in Texas due to a lack of funding. Texans who apply or renew their driver’s license would have an option to donate a dollar or more toward kit testing. 

Courtesy of the Joyful Heart Foundation

When you go to the Department of Public Safety office to apply for a driver’s license, the application asks if you want to donate a buck or more to support veterans or organ donation or people who are visually impaired. If Rep. Victoria Neave, D-Dallas, has her way, you’ll be asked if you’d like to help the state pay to test DNA evidence from sexual assault cases.

Sen. Cornyn Campaigning For 'SAFER' Act

Sep 18, 2012
Alexis Yancey

A proposed law called the SAFER Act would almost double the amount of federal money used to test DNA evidence in rape kits. Across the nation there are an estimated 400-hundred thousand untested rape kits sitting on shelves. The law is designed to help end the backlog and resolve sexual assault cases faster.

Thomas Fowler / (cc) flickr

Sen. John Cornyn and U.S. Rep. Kay Granger will be in Fort Worth Monday afternoon to talk about a bill pending in Congress to help eliminate the national backlog of untested rape kits.