Washington, DC - The Fairness for Rape Kit Backlog Survivors Act is making a reappearance in Congress thanks to the efforts of Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).
Through this act, sexual assault survivors would receive access to the same benefits as victims of other crimes.
Law enforcement agencies, laboratories, and hospitals across the U.S. have hundreds of thousands of untested DNA evidence (known as "rape kits") collecting dust in their facilities, sometimes for years.
Because of this, many sexual assault survivors are unable to access state crime victim compensation once the kits are finally tested and matched.
The bipartisan legislation introduced by the two Senators would require state programs to allow sexual assault survivors to file for compensation without being penalized for testing delays. If passed, states would be given three years to change their own laws in compliance.
“Every year, thousands of rape kits go untested, delaying justice for victims,” said Senator Toomey.
“This bipartisan bill helps lessen the ramifications of these backlogs by ensuring that victims can apply for and receive benefits and support services, even if their rape kit is delayed to a point that a victim missed the deadline to apply in their state. All victims deserve justice, so this bill is one small step Congress can take towards ensuring victims are properly supported. I hope my Senate colleagues will quickly approve this bill.”
“Nevada’s work to clear its rape kit backlog in 2020 has resulted in 64 arrests and over 1,083 DNA matches. My legislation will allow these Nevadans who may have just learned about a DNA match or forthcoming prosecution to file for state compensation funding to cover mental health counseling, medical procedures, and other related support services, even if the backlog caused them to miss the original deadline to apply,” said Senator Cortez Masto.
“Protecting survivors of sexual assault is a bipartisan priority, and I will continue working across the aisle to make sure survivors have the resources and federal support they need to seek justice.”