State Senators will hear testimony Monday on a bill that would increase funds for rape kit testing.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds, but only 6 out of every 1,000 attackers will go to prison. Convictions are heavily weighed by DNA evidence. Rape kits hold that evidence, but there are thousands of rape kits sitting on shelves, waiting to be tested.
Texas — where there are nearly 19,000 untested rape kits — has led the effort to clear the extensive backlog. Detectives with the Dallas Police Department recently closed an 8-year-old case thanks to the Cold Case Rape Kit Testing Division.
“Our department had the foresight to save and maintain all of the rape kits, even after the statute of limitations was up,” Deputy Chief Thomas Castro said.
Under the Justice for All Authorization Act, Dallas police received a grant that allowed for the testing of backlogged rape kits.
“We had 4,333 untested rape kits dating back to 1996. So far 1,985 have been tested,” said Castro.
There have been hundreds of matches that have led to 13 arrests and recently the conviction of a serial rapist. According to detectives, DNA evidence from rape kits back in 2009, linked 42-year-old Joseph Beaty to at least six sexual assaults throughout Dallas-Fort Worth.
Offices and lawmakers believer more serial offenders could be caught, if the state received additional funding. Dallas Police Department is just one law enforcement agency out more than 180 agencies in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Rep. Victoria Neave is leading the trail from Dallas to Austin, pushing HB 1729 — which would allow Texans to donate toward a rape kit testing fund — through the Texas Legislature. Upon renewing or applying for a Texas Driver’s License, if the bill is passed, a voluntary donation box would give Texans the opportunity to donate $1 or more to fund the testing of rape kits. It costs between $400 to $1,200 to test each rape kit.
“These women and children and individuals of sexual assault deserve to have these rape kits tested,” Neave said. “The fact that we have thousands of rape kits across our state just sitting there untested is a travesty.”
Testimony for the bill will be heard before the committee Monday.