During this legislative session, Texas has the opportunity to enact comprehensive, sustainable rape kit reform. The Texas Senate has unanimously passed a rape kit reform bill introduced by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Austin. The bill now goes to the Texas House, where the companion bill by Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, has already been heard in committee. The legislation would require law enforcement to inventory and report the number of untested rape kits in their storage facilities by October 2011, and to send all backlogged kits for testing by 2012. In addition, every new rape kit would be sent to a crime lab within 30 days of being booked into police evidence.
In a state with a 23 percent arrest rate for reported rapes - which means assailants have a 3 out of 4 chance of walking away without consequence - rape kit reform would not only send thousands of untested kits to the labs they were intended to reach, but would also give thousands of rape victims the opportunity for healing, as well as the justice they sought when they first reported the crimes.