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Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault Act

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Ms. Magazine recently reported that Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and 20 other U.S. House members, introduced H.R. 4114, the “Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault Act of 2009.”
This legislation would help reduce the national backlog of more than 180,000 untested rape kits. The intent is to create incentives for jurisdictions to process their rape kits in a timely manner, while making sure that the progress reports were made public. The bill also intends to deal with other matters that deny justice to victims of sexual assault, such as a shortage of professionals who can administer the DNA test and the non-availability of free rape kits.

I wrote a blog on the fact that Ms. Magazine first reported the backlog crisis in Los Angeles, last winter. Since then, it has come to light that L.A. isn’t the only city with such a backlog of untested rape kits. There are several others. In a recent CBS-TV investigation, there are at least 12 major cities in the country that do not have a clue as to how many untested rape kits are in their police storage rooms.

Los Angeles finally began eliminating its backlog. Ms. Magazine reported on this in its article, “The Testing Has Begun,” in the fall of 2009. The results of the progress made was good news. Evidence was able to be matched up with old cases and many criminals faced trial. In Minneapolis, when 35 kits were tested this year, there was a case from 1998 that matched DNA from a 2007 case, and DNA matches led to eight charges of rape in total. New York no longer has a backlog, and that means that the arrest rate for rapists is three times the national average.

Rep. Maloney said the following, “Every two minutes someone is sexually assaulted somewhere in the United States. DNA evidence doesn’t forget and it cannot be intimidated. By processing this evidence, we can prevent rapists from attacking more innocent victims and ensure that the survivors and their families receive justice.”

This legislation is long overdue. Why subject a woman to a rape kit, after she has just gone through the trauma of rape, and then not test it?

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