There are more than 13,000 untested sexual assault kits in the State of California. Given that it costs between $1,000 and $1,500 to test a single kit, that backlog won’t disappear anytime soon. On June 20, Representative Katie Porter (D-Irvine) introduced an amendment to the fiscal year 2020 appropriations bill that would add $1 million in funding to address untested rape kits.
“I have 5 minutes to speak about my amendment today, and during this time, three people in this country will suffer sexual assault,” Porter said on the House floor on June 20, according to the Congressional Record. “That works out to every 92 seconds someone is sexually assaulted in our country.”
The stats on rape convictions are equally daunting. “According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network [RAINN], only 5 out of every 1,000 rapists will end up in prison,” Porter said. “We are failing every single one of those 13,615 victims whose rape kit is sitting and waiting for our attention, and we are failing tens of thousands more across the country, including those who will be sexually assaulted by a perpetrator whose DNA will sit untested for a crime already committed.”
As Porter noted in her House floor speech, an extra $1 million won’t even come close to resolving the nation’s untested rape kit backlog. That money would only fund the testing of an additional 1,000 rape kits (nationwide, about 225,000 untested rape kits have been discovered over the last decade, according to this 2018 HuffPost piece, but that’s not considered a total accounting). But the amendment is part of a larger funding strategy, Porter noted.
“The amendment would bring the total funding up to $50 million, which will only provide enough Federal funding for the testing of up to 50,000 kits,” Porter said. “While that is enough to give answers to the 13,000 sexual assault victims waiting for analysis and help in California, because of a lack of data nationwide, we don’t know exactly how many sexual assault kits are waiting in this country.”
The House of Representatives adopted Porter’s amendment on a bipartisan basis, according to Porter’s office.
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.