Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski has announced that the Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies included $41 million for a new community-based sexual assault response initiative in the FY15 spending bill for Commerce, Justice and Science. This new initiative will enable communities to develop a thorough approach to rape kit testing, investigation and prosecution of sexual violence, training for law enforcement and services for survivors.
Back in March, President Obama requested $35 million for competitive Department of Justice grants that would provide communities with the vital resources they need to support multi-disciplinary response teams to develop and implement comprehensive rape kit reform. Just last week, the House of Representatives approved $41 million in funding for this initiative, after Congressman Steve Cohen of Tennessee introduced an amendment raising the House’s initial allocation from $36 million to $41 million.
Dedicated funding to support communities in their work to address the untested rape kits in their police storage facilities and move those cases forward to prosecution will offer much-needed 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.
Joyful Heart applauds the members of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science for making this groundbreaking commitment. We urge the full Senate to join their colleagues in taking this tremendous step toward justice for sexual assault survivors and their communities.
ENDTHEBACKLOG is a program of the Joyful Heart Foundation to shine a light on the backlog of untested rape kits throughout the United States. Our goal is to end this injustice by conducting groundbreaking research identifying the extent of the nation’s backlog and best practices for eliminating it, expanding the national dialogue on rape kit testing through increased public awareness, engaging communities and government agencies and officials and advocating for comprehensive rape kit reform legislation and policies at the local, state and federal levels. We urge you to learn more about the backlog, where it exists and why it matters. We invite you to take action and support efforts to test rape kits. Help us send the message that we must take rape seriously.