Where is the justice for the victims of sexual assault when we can’t even get the rape kits tested? Republican Congresswoman Ann Wagner made a desperate plea for the federal funding to be reauthorized so the backlog of rape kits can be tested. She got the job done.
“Untested DNA cases have increased by 85% since 2011. And in my own home state of Missouri alone, more than 5,400 untested rape kits are sitting in labs and store rooms.”
The Debbie Smith Act can provide up to $151 million in funding per year through Fiscal Year 2019, which ends in June 2020. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, Congress appropriated $117 million in 2015.
“Much needed funding for crime labs to process DNA evidence and strengthen national DNA database, which has more than 17 million profiles on it.”
Wagner co-sponsored the bill with New York Democrat Carolyn Maloney.
In Missouri, Attorney General Eric Schmitt created a task force eight months ago to assess the problem, beginning with an inventory of untested kits that remain at law enforcement agencies and hospitals.
“We have one hundred percent compliance from all the hospitals now and we’re getting to that last little bit with law enforcement agencies. So we’re looking to make an announcement very soon about the conclusion of phase one, which then allows us to get, by way of the grant process, to phase two, which is a tracking system for law enforcement and for victims — and ultimately the testing phase.”