Does Texas law require...
An Audit of Untested Rape Kits?
Yes – One-Time
Tracking of Rape Kits?
Testing of all backlogged rape kits?
Testing of all rape kits in the future?
Victims to be notified of the status of their cases?
Funding for testing kits?
The extent of the untested rape kit backlog in Texas is unknown. In 2011, Texas became the second state to enact a law requiring law enforcement agencies to send all newly collected kits to a crime lab for testing within 30 days. The law directed the lab to test the kits as soon as is feasible. The law also required law enforcement agencies to count the untested rape kits in their storage facilities and to have them analyzed by September 2014. As of January 2017, local law enforcement agencies have submitted 19,051 untested kits to the state lab for testing. Texas law does not require law enforcement agencies to track rape kits.
In 2013, Texas legislators appropriated $11,000,000 in funding to test backlogged kits.
In 2015, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office awarded the Austin Police Department $1,994,648 to test 3,070 rape kits; the Jefferson County Regional Crime Laboratory was awarded $789,223 to test 1,300 rape kits; and the Travis County Sheriff's Office was awarded $97,305 to test 148 rape kits. Also, in 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) awarded Dallas County $1,599,170 to test kits, investigate and prosecute cases, and re-engage survivors.
In 2016, the BJA awarded Dallas County an additional $1,000,000 to sustain this work.
In 2017, Texas legislators introduced multiple rape kit reform bills:
- H.B. 281 and H.B. 1383, which each require the establishment of a statewide sexual assault kit tracking system, which must enable sexual assault survivors to anonymously track or receive updates regarding the status of their kits. Read our testimony in support of H.B. 281.
- H.B. 1171, which would shorten existing lab testing deadlines for newly collected kits from "as soon as practicable" to no later than 60 days after kits are submitted to the lab.
- H.B. 1729 and S.B. 1163, which would create a voluntary donation program for driver's license applications and renewals to fund the testing of rape kits. Read our letters of support.
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