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Lawmakers, Advocates Still Pushing To Fix Texas' Rape Kit Backlog

Courtesy Joyful Heart Foundation

A victim's forensic exam can be one of the strongest pieces of evidence in a sexual assault investigation. Why is so much evidence related to cases of sexual assault not being processed? 

Traces of DNA can help law enforcement track down the attacker and prove the crime in court, but many sexual assualt suvivors have waited years, even decades,for their cases to be resolved.  Thousands of "rape kits" are still untested in Texas, according to 2017 data from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

In 2017, bipartisan legislation was enacted that allowed Texas residents to donate a dollar to the cause when renewing their driver's licence or vehicle registration. Individual Texans committed more than $560,000 in 2018 to help clear rape kits. Why was Harris the only county to apply for a share of the donated money?

Why was this deemed an appropriate solution at all? Why isn't prosecuting rapists more of a priority?

In the current legislative session, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are again filing legislation to fund processing and reduce the backlog of sexual assault evidence collection kits. How are this year's efforts to effect change different than those in the past? 

What led to this backlog in the first place? What can be done to prevent kits from stacking up? How does Texas compare to the rest of the United States when it comes to managing kits and sexual assault cases?How can advocates and survivors help change the conversation about criminal justice and sexual assault? What local resources are available for survivors in San Antonio? 

The Rape Crisis Center hotline can be reached 24/7 at 210-349-7273. More information at rapecrisis.com. 


"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet at @TPRSource. 


This interview aired on Wednesday, March 13, 2019.

Copyright 2019 Texas Public Radio

David Martin Davies is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience covering Texas, the border and Mexico.
Raised in San Antonio, Jan Ross is a graduate of UT Austin’s School of Journalism. Before starting at Texas Public Radio, she interned for the News Desk at NPR Headquarters and the network’s mid-day program, Here & Now. She was a member of Texas Standard’s digital-first web team and interned during the newsmagazine show’s launch in 2015. Jan Ross is a Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change Fellow and was selected for the University of Texas System’s Archer Fellowship in Washington, D.C. Described as a “walking Wikipedia,” Jan Ross is interested in all things pop culture and global affairs. Her journalistic interests range from issues of social inequality to media commentary. She enjoys listening to podcasts and live music, traveling, and sharing the next-best shows on TV.