Lawmakers, Advocates Still Pushing To Fix Texas' Rape Kit Backlog
A victim's forensic exam can be one of the strongest pieces of evidence in a sexual assault investigation. Why is so much evidence related to cases of sexual assault not being processed?
Traces of DNA can help law enforcement track down the attacker and prove the crime in court, but many sexual assualt suvivors have waited years, even decades, for their cases to be resolved. Thousands of "rape kits" are still untested in Texas, according to 2017 data from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
In 2017, bipartisan legislation was enacted that allowed Texas residents to donate a dollar to the cause when renewing their driver's licence or vehicle registration. Individual Texans committed more than $560,000 in 2018 to help clear rape kits. Why was Harris the only county to apply for a share of the donated money?
Why was this deemed an appropriate solution at all? Why isn't prosecuting rapists more of a priority?
In the current legislative session, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are again filing legislation to fund processing and reduce the backlog of sexual assault evidence collection kits. How are this year's efforts to effect change different than those in the past?
What led to this backlog in the first place? What can be done to prevent kits from stacking up?
How does Texas compare to the rest of the United States when it comes to managing kits and sexual assault cases?
How can advocates and survivors help change the conversation about criminal justice and sexual assault? What local resources are available for survivors in San Antonio?
The Rape Crisis Center hotline can be reached 24/7 at 210-349-7273. More information at rapecrisis.com.
- Victoria Neave, state representative for Texas District 107
- Andrea Lopez, community engagement coordinator at the Rape Crisis Center San Antonio
- Ilse Knecht, director of policy and advocacy at the Joyful Heart Foundation
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This interview aired on Wednesday, March 13, 2019.