Source: Local Memphis
By Kim Chaney
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – According to Congressman Steve Cohen’s office, the U.S. House has passed an amendment that would provide an additional $4 million for law agencies working to reduce backlogs of untested rape kits.
The following was issued by Congressman Cohen’s office:
The House of Representatives today passed an amendment offered by Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) to include an additional $4 million in the Fiscal Year 2018 House appropriations package for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI), which helps local law enforcement agencies working to reduce their backlogs of untested rape kits. Today’s passage continues a trend of increased funding for SAKI. In 2015, Congressman Cohen and Congresswoman Maloney successfully offered an amendment to increase funding for SAKI by $4 million. In 2014, Congressman Cohen successfully offered an amendment to increase funding for SAKI by $5 million. If today’s House-passed amendment becomes law, Congress will have increased funding from $36 million to $49 million since 2014 – a 36% increase.
“DNA analysis has been revolutionary in helping catch criminals and prevent further crimes from occurring. But when evidence is sitting on a shelf somewhere waiting to be tested, that means assailants are still at large and could be assaulting more victims,” said Congressman Cohen. “The backlog of untested rape kits across this country is shameful, and we need to commit the resources necessary to get them tested. This increased funding will help make that happen. I am grateful that our amendment was included, and I am proud to have Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s support.”
“Local law enforcement agencies need federal resources to address rape kit backlogs and seek justice for survivors of sexual assault,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “I worked to pass the Debbie Smith Act, which has been called the most important anti-rape legislation ever signed into law, to provide substantial federal funds to help states and localities work through DNA evidence backlogs and increasing funding for SAKI will continue this much needed work. Rape kits that are sitting on shelves need to be tested and predators who walk our streets must be put behind bars. I’m proud to have worked with Rep. Cohen on this amendment.”
At its peak, the backlog reached 12,000 untested kits in Memphis alone with an estimated 400,000 sitting in evidence rooms nationwide. In 2015, Memphis received nearly $2 million from this grant program to reduce its rape kit backlog.