Last week, the House of Representatives passed The Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2008, which will allow for funding for a grant program started in 2004 to process untested rape kits. A rape kit is a package of evidence collected from a victim following a rape. The process of collecting this evidence is invasive and lengthy, but the resulting DNA tests can prove to be critical in identifying the perpetrator. When the grant program was started in 2004, almost 400,000 rape kits had not yet been tested. Thousands of rape kits continue to be gathered each year. In a recent story, The Washington Post has reported that the proportion of rape crimes reported has increased, while the amount of people arrested for rape has declined due to the amassing backlogs of rape kits.
States claim that this backlog is due to a lack of funding. In reality, The Washington Post reports that Congress has designated millions of dollars for DNA testing for sexual assaults. It claims that states have failed to give equal weight to the severity of rape in relation to other violent crimes.
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Compiled from: “House Passes Grant for Processing Untested Rape Kits,” Feminist Majority Foundation, 24 July 2008; Tofte, Sarah, “A Test of Justice for Rape Victims,” The Washington Post, 22 July 2008.