January 23, 2013 — Shortly before the 112th Congress adjourned in December, the Senate passed a bill (S 3250) that "approved action against an intolerable failure of criminal justice -- the backlog of scores of thousands of rape test kits allowed to sit untested for years in police custody," a New York Times editorial states.
The Senate approved the bill unanimously, and the "House should be no less emphatic in repairing this scandalous injustice to rape victims," the editorial adds.
According to the editorial, laboratory officials and police have "complained that they lacked sufficient resources to deal with the kits," which can cost $1,000 each to analyze. The Senate bill would redirect funding to address the backlog. It also would authorize a national audit for DNA matching of up to 400,000 untested kits, according to the bill's sponsor, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
The editorial notes that when police from Fort Worth, Texas, submitted backlogged kits for analysis, 102 suspects were identified, leading to 47 arrests and 36 felony convictions. The findings suggest "that many rapists still roam free and show the need for Congress to revive and enact the rape-kit bill," the editorial argues (New York Times, 1/20).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership