Rape Kits are not Analyzed due to Lack of Funding
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
On April 13, 2011, a bi-partisan bill was introduced in Congress by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Rep. Ted Poe(R-TX). The bill known as the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER) Act, would provide funding to reduce rape kits backlog nationwide. Sexual assault victims, law enforcement agencies, and public officials all agree that funding is a crucial part of putting more rapists behind bars.
Hundreds of thousands of rape cases occur annually across the country. Officials in West Virginia say more funding could be the difference between putting rapists behind bars or letting them walk free. In West Virginia, about one in every nine adult women has been a victim. But, most of these cases are never reported. The chance of a rapist getting jail time is only six percent. This low percentage mixed with the victim's fear that they will not be believed may have something to do with these cases not being reported. This is why collecting DNA evidence after a sexual assault from a "rape kit" is so important. Once the rape kit is sent to a crime lab, a DNA profile is recovered and entered into the State's DNA database. Lack of funding, however, often stops the kit from ever being processed, meaning a rapist goes free. The U.S. has about 180,000 unprocessed kits.
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