FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 04/05/2017
House Approves Victoria Neave's Bill to Help End Rape Kit Backlog
Austin, TX: The Texas House today tentatively approved legislation filed by Rep. Victoria Neave (107) to help victims of sexual assault. House Bill 1729, Rep. Neave's first filed legislation, would generate revenue to test evidence, including rape kits, collected in cases of sexual assault.
"We have an opportunity to bring justice to women, victims, and survivors of sexual assault," said Rep. Victoria Neave. "I wanted to make sure that our first bill was meaningful to women and families in our state. We have a responsibility as legislators to solve this issue."
The revenue would come from voluntary donations made by individuals applying for, or renewing their driver's license or personal identification card. The Legislative Budget Board estimates this bill will help generate $1 million annually.
According to the Department of Public Safety, more than 18,000 incidents of sexual assault were reported in 2015. A 2014 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that nearly 20% of women in the United State have been the victim of rape or attempted rape.
Individuals who are victims of sexual assault may choose, or may be asked, to undergo a four to six hour forensic examination in the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault to collect evidence left behind from the assault. The evidence is preserved in a sexual assault evidence collection kit, commonly referred to as a rape kit. The evidence collected in the rape kit may be used to prosecute the attacker. However, thousands of rape kits in Texas remain untested. The cost of testing associated with each kit, which ranges from $500 to $2,000 per kit depending on how much DNA evidence is found, is sometimes cited as the reason for part of the backlog.
The funds generated from the legislation would go to a dedicated evidence testing account for a grant administered by the Criminal Justice Division in the Office of the Governor.
The Texas House will again vote on the legislation tomorrow.
Victoria Neave represents Texas House District 107, which includes parts of East Dallas, Mesquite, and Garland. She serves on the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence and the House County Affairs Committees.