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Urge Congress to Fund Testing of Rape Kits
As we shared last month, President Obama recently called on Congress to allocate funding to reduce the rape kit backlog. Since then, we have continued our work to shine a light on this issue on behalf of survivors nationwide.
This month, both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate advanced spending bills that include $117 million for Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Reduction Grants, which provide funding for eligible states and local governments to test backlogged DNA samples. The legislation specifically instructs the Justice Department to prioritize the testing of rape kits. This is a critical investment that will not only save lives, hold rapists accountable and give survivors greater access to justice—it also has the power to bring much-needed healing.
Every year, more than 200,000 individuals report their rape to the police. Almost all are asked to have a rape kit collected, a process that can take four to six hours to complete. The potential benefits from this invasive process are enormous: testing of the DNA evidence in a rape kit can identify an unknown perpetrator, confirm the presence of a known assailant, corroborate the victim's account of the rape and exonerate innocent suspects. To accomplish these things, however, the kits must be tested.
In the United States, it is estimated that there are hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in police and crime lab storage facilities simply waiting to be tested. Each untested kit represents lost justice for a survivor of rape, an investigation cut short before the offender could be brought to justice.
We must eliminate this backlog. We must give survivors the justice they deserve. We must hold dangerous assailants accountable. The stakes are simply too high.
Join us in telling your Representative and Senators that the $117 million in funding to eliminate the rape kit backlog is critical and must be a priority in this year's Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill as the legislation advances for full votes in both houses of Congress. Please call or email your members today by clicking here to find contact information for your Representative and here to find your Senators. To learn more about Joyful Heart's work to end the rape kit backlog, visit www.endthebacklog.org.
Thank you for your continued support.