Due to untested evidence, Texas is dealing with a backlog of rape kits that need to be processed for thousands of rape investigations.
One lawmaker proposed a bill that would leverage crowdfunding to help pay for the testing and to alleviate the bottleneck, The New York Times reported. State Representative Victoria Neave, a Democrat from Dallas, submitted the legislation earlier this year to solicit donations from people to underwrite a grant for the Department of Public Safety to test rape kits, which typically include evidence samples such as hair, skin cells and fabric fibers.
“It was an issue that we thought was really important,” Neave told the NYT. “We know that women don’t always get to the point of reporting the incident, and when they have the courage to voluntarily undergo the test, that takes a lot of courage.”
“My view is that the least thing we can do is make sure that we get these kits … tested,” she added. “We owe it to them.”
According to the proposed bill, the request for donations would take place when people are applying for or renewing a driver’s license. The first public hearing for the bill took place on Monday (March 13), and a final vote will take place before the end of May.
The state could generate an estimated $1 million annually if the bill is adopted into law, according to a legislative budget document, leaving more than $800,000 every fiscal year after accounting for administrative costs.
The Texas Legislature aims to use the donations as a supplement to, rather than a replacement of, the budget that is already in place to help process these kits, the NYT noted.
Rebecca Acuna, Neave’s chief of staff, also said that the Legislature in the state is also considering allocating $4 million to help fund kit processing, which can cost as much as $1,000 to $1,500 per kit.