Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is calling for renewal of a federal program that gives grant money to local law enforcement agencies to help battle a backlog of untested rape kit examinations, reports the Dallas Morning News. Cornyn, who has introduced the Justice for All Act reauthorization bill with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), made his case with advocates for sexual assault victims during National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. About 40 percent of the grants now are used for analyzing evidence. Cornyn wants to increase it to 75 percent.
He said the five-year reauthorization of the law would set aside money for law enforcement agencies to do inventory on their untested rape kits. If not reauthorized, most programs in the law, which also covers other criminal justice programs, are set to expire Sept. 30. “When you count things, you can start to measure things — either your success or the lack thereof,” he said. There are thought to be about 400,000 untested rape kits nationwide. Dallas police Lt. Rich Wilson estimated that the department has been dealing with more than 4,000 old kits. Many of the tests were from victims who stopped talking to police during investigations, Wilson said. Since they couldn't prosecute the case without help from a victim, the evidence was stored and never touched. Now, the emphasis on reporting and testing evidence keeps women engaged and allows police to notify the state of any offender's DNA being linked to a previously unsolved offense.