In a refreshing reprieve from partisan bickering, Republicans and Democrats co-sponsored a bill to fix the massive backlogs of rape kits.
Rape kits sitting unprocessed for months or years has been a long running, outrageous, and often overlooked problem in this country. Right now, at this very moment, there are an estimated 400,000 rape kits sitting in evidence rooms across the country that haven’t been processed. That means not only 400,000 rape victims waiting for justice and not getting it, but 400,000 opportunities for rapists to strike again. The kits often go unprocessed for so long that the statute of limitations runs out and the crime can never be prosecuted.
“Every rapist, according to police, will attack roughly seven times,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said when discussing the new bill, according to ABC News. “They are sick people. Each time you can make that connection and put them in jail you are preventing them from hurting other women.”
The backlog is usually attributed to insufficient funding for police departments to process the DNA evidence. The SAFER Act of 2012 will allow underfunded departments to apply for the additional money they need to process their backlogged rape kits. The bill will not cost the taxpayers any additional money (though I think it would be worth it if it did), but will instead reallocate existing funding.
Rep. Maloney said at a press conference that Congress hopes to pass the bill in the next three weeks. “It is my hope that the SAFER Act will bring to light the necessity of testing rape kits as quickly as possible in order to bring swift justice to violent criminals,” she said. “Victims of violent crime should not be left in the dark about the status of their case and have to live in fear while the perpetrators go about their everyday lives."