An old Texas statute of limitations regarding sexual assaults prevents many rapists from being prosecuted even if preserved DNA evidence links them to an attack, says the Dallas Morning News. Last year, Texas enacted a law that allows DNA links in cold cases to be noted in offenders’ criminal histories, which can influence decisions about parole, bail amounts, or sentences for other crimes.
Dallas police have DNA evidence from thousands of unsolved rape cases dating back to the early 1980s. The police Sexual Assault Cold Case Program, which began in 2001, uses that evidence and fingerprint technology to solve old cases. To date, the program has solved 77 cases. Since the 2009 law was enacted, Dallas police have added information about DNA links in at least 13 cases. The U.S. Justice Department recently rejected a Dallas grant request to help pay for the investigations of older unsolved sexual assaults that include preserved DNA evidence. Dallas police said they will commit existing city funds to the cold case effort.