With Huge Backlog, Texas Bill Wants to Crowdfund Rape Kit Testing

Donations collected at the DMV would fund DNA testing
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2017 12:57 PM CDT
Texas Wants to Crowdfund Rape Kit Testing
Texas Rep. Victoria Neave says "we owe it" to rape victims to test physical evidence now sitting in thousands of backlogged "rape kits."   (Ben Torres/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

With thousands of rape kits languishing untested in Texas, one state lawmaker devised a clever solution: crowdfunding. Rep. Victoria Neave came up with the idea after learning that many rape investigations were going nowhere because there was no money to analyze evidence collected from victims, NPR reports. The Dallas Democrat filed a bill that would ask Texans to pony up $1 or more when they stop into the DMV to renew or apply for drivers licenses. The donations would mirror those collected for veterans and other organizations, except they would be used to test DNA evidence collected in reported rapes, such as semen, hair, and fibers. If the measure passes—it's cleared the House and is set for a Senate vote—Neave says it could generate $1 million a year "and end the backlog of untested rape kits."

The price tag for testing a rape kit can hit $2,000, per NPR, leaving many police departments in Texas and other states balking at the expense. Neave told the New York Times in March that it's tough enough for women to muster the "courage" to report rape. When they do, she adds, "we owe it to them" to ensure the physical evidence is properly tested. It's unclear how many untested kits are in Texas, though estimates sit at about 20,000, the Daily Beast reported last month. Not everyone is impressed with the idea. "It's really horrifying that ... evidence testing for survivors is reliant on charitable donations by the public," says Kristen Lenau, a victims' advocate. "We believe the onus to test this evidence is on the state and local governments." (For one rape victim, even finding a rape kit was an ordeal.)

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