Senate Appropriations Provides $41 Million for Rape Kit Reform

For Immediate Release: June 3, 2014

NEW YORK – The Joyful Heart Foundation applauds today’s announcement by Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski that the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies has included $41 million for a new community-based sexual assault response reform initiative in its FY15 spending bill. The initiative will provide a thorough approach that includes kit testing, investigation and prosecution of sexual assault crimes, training for law enforcement officers, and victim services. The goal of the program is not only to test backlogged kits, but also to develop approaches that improve the law enforcement response to sexual assault and services to victims.

This follows the approval of $41 million in funding by the House of Representatives last week, after Congressman Steve Cohen introduced an amendment that successfully raised the funding an additional $5 million on top of the previous $36 million allocation. This dedicated funding for competitive grants will provide communities across the country with the vital resources they need – and are asking for – to support multi-disciplinary community response teams tasked with developing and implementing comprehensive rape kit reform.

See below for a statement from Sarah Tofte, Vice President for Policy & Advocacy at the Joyful Heart Foundation:

“The thousands upon thousands of rape kits sitting untested in police storage facilities across the country represent thousands of leads to investigate, survivors to re-engage with compassion and care and cases to prosecute. Communities simply do not have the resources necessary to make this possible while also responding to new reported cases.

“Dedicated funding to support communities in their work to address the untested kits in their police storage facilities and move those cases forward to prosecution is a relief to public officials committed to comprehensive reform. It is the funding they need to uphold their commitment to pursue every lead from testing rape kits, reform their criminal justice response to rape, engage survivors in the process and bring offenders to justice.

“Funding for comprehensive rape kit reform sends a message to survivors that they—and their cases—matter. It sends a message to perpetrators that they will be held accountable for their crimes. It demonstrates a commitment to survivors to do everything possible to bring healing and justice.”

To view a coalition letter from nearly every major organization working to end domestic violence and sexual assault, click here.

For background and further information on the rape kit backlog, go to: ENDTHEBACKLOG.org.

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The mission of the Joyful Heart Foundation is to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, and to shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues.

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