Taking steps towards betterment
A new law directs the Department of Public Safety to allow Texans to help the rape victims by making a contribution while applying for a new or renewal of the driving license and personal identification certificates. The new law which took effect on 1st September, will essentially crowdfund rape testing kit statewide. Since the state is rarely able to gather enough funds to afford test kits, the Dallas republic is hoping that this law will enable the state to gather sufficient funds.
The applications provided with the driving license forms already ask people if they want to donate $1 or more to a few other causes like veterans, the state’s organ and tissue registry and blindness Education Screening and Testing Program. The applications will also make it possible to donate directly to test sexual assault kits from 1st January.
The idea behind the Law
State rep. Victoria Neave agrees that the people of Texas should have to pass around or find a figurative hat to help a rape victim get justice. Neave, a freshman in legislature this year said, “There are women sitting for years waiting for justice. A dollar can go a long way toward bringing someone peace.”
State rep. Neave authored the bill 1729 that enables the Texans to donate for the rape victim and make it possible for the state to fund the rape kit testing in Texas. These rape kits costs around between $500 and $2000 and takes a whole lot of deal for the police to find them. Forensic department analysts and advocates describe the importance of these testing kits in solving important cases and finding serial rapists and acquitting wrongly accused.
This law is the recent attempt by the state to clear the pile of backlog of rape cases. The crowdfunding law is coupled with a two-year budget appropriation. In 2011, a target was set for the law agencies which could not be met. Public safety officials reported that there was a backlog of 20,000 kits and in 2013 it took $11 million into addressing it. The backlog of pre-2011 is still 3,000 whereas, thousands of sexual assaults are taking place every year in Texas.
According to Austin American statesman, mold was found grown around thousands of test kits that were stored in police storage in 1990s.
The legislature has been credited for its efforts and success in addressing the issue of sexual assault and backlogs of similar cases. Chris Kaiser praised the legislature for the efforts and suggested that this has been a “problem emblematic of the devaluing survivors.”
A fiscal note on Neave’s new law estimates the funding of $1 Million per year. Peter Stout said that any money will be a great amount of help but the amount of time it takes is substantial. He added, “We are still short of where we need to be.”
Houston undertook a similar effort which enables them to receive 80 to 100 kits per month and led to charges against 29 people at a time. Amy Castillo said that every rape survivor deserves their kit be processed.”