Texas Cities, How Do You Eliminate Rape Kit Backlogs? Ask Houston
by: Pat Hernandez, October 9, 2013 4:10:00 pm
The FBI estimates there are more than 400,000 untested sexual assault kits in the country. While some cities decided to dispose the untested kits, Mayor Annise Parker says Houston has proceeded to slowly eliminate its backlog.
"There are no existing back-dated sexual assault kits in the control of the Houston Police Department. We shipped them to two outside labs earlier this year, and we have every expectation that by the end of this calendar year and certainly in the first quarter of next year, those tests will be completed."
Parker says the money to test the backlog was not easy to find.
"The total contracted cost is $4.4 million dollars. Of this total, $2.2 million dollars is funded by federal grants, and the balance is funded by the city's general fund. Once tested by the outside labs, these cases are gonna be returned to HPD for follow-up investigations as appropriate."
Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia calls the kits being tested a milestone in public safety.
"All of the integral pieces to solving rapes, and being able to pursue sexual predators, and ultimately incarcerating them, is an important part, and that is the hospitals. Making sure that victims of crime don't continue to be victimize as a result of a lack of infrastructure."
State Sen. Wendy Davis, a Democratic candidate for governor, helped secure $11 million dollars in funding to test the backlog of 20,000 rape kits around the state.
"With the help of state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, to have passed into law this year a requirement that men and women, who are victims of sexual assault, to be kept in the loop about what's going on with that evidence, so long of course, that it doesn't compromise any ongoing investigation. That of course, will help make people who are victims, become people who are empowered to bring justice to what happened to them."