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Texas Bills Victims For Rape Kits Despite Funding

Nobody likes to answer a phone call from a bill collector. But imagine you're a rape victim, and that bill is for your rape kit — the invasive procedure conducted to collect DNA evidence.

Across the US, authorities drag their feet when it comes to using DNA evidence to prosecute rape. In LA County, 12,669 such rape kits sit in storage. But in Texas it's worse. Rape victims receive delinquent bills from the hospital and phone calls from creditors demanding they pay thousands of dollars for evidence collection. The bills present a financial burden, but they also serve a second dose of trauma for victims trying to heal.

Shockingly, a shortage of funds does not motivate the policy. The Texas crime victim compensation fund has a large surplus that could cover the costs. In addition, the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program, named after a victim whose assailant wasn't arrested for six years thanks to an untested kit, offers generous federal funding for rape kit testing.

Since it's not for a lack of money, what's happening in Texas offers troubling evidence that society does not consider rape a serious crime.

To see a video report on this practice in Texas,



Join The Conversation
Monique-Marie427757 Monique-Marie427757 8 years
Makes you wonder if the people who are dragging their feet would think differently if a loved one or themselves got raped. In today's society, rape is still a touchy subject and feel that it is not a serious crime to push forth the effort.
oni1 oni1 8 years
WeTheLiving WeTheLiving 8 years
That is horrible! I live in Texas and I had no idea rape victims were being charged for evidence to be collected. My reps are so hearing about this! This is completely disgusting! Not only are the victims being punished here, but this can only discourage people from submitting to rape kits out of fear they'll owe thousands of dollars and have damaged credit. bastylefilegirl, you are so right! The taxpayers will end up paying for a lawyer for the rapist, but this fund won't pay for rape victims' treatments?
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
I call B.S. and I agree with the point that no one should have to pay for evidence in a criminal case! What's amazing is I bet if the alleged rapist met the requirements for a public defender he would get one. How backwards is that! People ( fathers of daughters, mothers of daughters, husbands, everyone) in the state of Texas should be up in arms and writing there representatives for a change!
Symphonee Symphonee 8 years
What are women and constituents doing in Texas to stop this? Why are people talking about it here? I hope that someone is trying to rally for a change for this because this is not an elective medical procedure. It is necessary in the detection and apprehension of a predatory criminal.
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 8 years
I think its disgusting that victims should pay for their own rape kits.
PontNeuf PontNeuf 8 years
There's still the mentality that rape victims somehow deserve to be raped or that they brought it on themselves. Plus, Texas isn't the only place where victims have been billed for their rape kits. Wasilla, Alaska used to charge victims $1,200 for rape kits when Sarah Palin was mayor.
dm8bri dm8bri 8 years
cakeshinigami cakeshinigami 8 years
And we should make all rapists form a line in from of a small guillotine...
cakeshinigami cakeshinigami 8 years
They should find the rapist first and bill him.
margokhal margokhal 8 years
Jocupcake, we've had some people talking about Texas' secession from the Union [again!] for a just might happen! :D [of course I'm totally joking, there's enough awesome people down here to realize how utterly terrible THAT would be!]
Talldiva45 Talldiva45 8 years
I just have no words - this is beyond awful! But as others have said TX is often known for doing outlandish and unjust things such as this... unfortunate. I can't even begin to imagine being stuck w. a bill for such a traumatic event. Like the aftermath isn't enough for anyone! What has the world come to!?
jocupcake jocupcake 8 years
Of course, I say that hoping that all the nice people in Texas will move and stay in the US :)
jocupcake jocupcake 8 years
We should just kick Texas out of the union. I hope these women are planning on preparing a massive lawsuit. What sort of person can possibly think that this is ok?
Ac2366 Ac2366 8 years
It's disgusting that a crime victim can be charged for collecting evidence. I understand that since it is done at a hospital someone has to be billed but it should be done at a reduced fee at the cost of the state and/or local government. Who pays forensic scientists and crime scene police to collect and process evidence? The victim should not be afraid to report a rape because she can't afford to pay for the processing of evidence.
margokhal margokhal 8 years
Wackdoodle, they already do that somewhat down here. Yes, this sucks and is a major stupid move. And yes, I'm also from Texas. I do understand the "logic" they're trying to put behind this, namely that rape kits are done at the hospital [I've forgotten what the rule is, but sometimes the police order one to be done, but I think what most often happens is that you have to request it if you plan to file charges] and should be considered an "elective" medical procedure and therefore the victim should be billed as such. Which is really terrible in ACTUALLY bringing rapists to justice and discouraging such behavior in our communities. I love my state - it really does have a lot of great things, but it makes me sad that we're only known for so much dumb sh*t because we've got a bunch of idiots in charge. Fortunately, the current governor will NOT be reelected next year [even his own party won't have him!]; I just hope we get some clearer and more compassionate heads. Tres, you'll probably be looking back at Texas soon...we've got a bill that's about to pass making it legal for students with CHLs to carry on campus [sorry if you support that kind of thing, but you can't use "Wild West" logic in urban cities, especially down here!]
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 8 years
this is sickening.
saucymegstar saucymegstar 8 years
The CNN story failed to properly cover the point that it is completely wrong to have the victim of a crime pay for evidence collection to prosecute the perpetrator. It's not about having to "relive the event" b/c you get a bill-- it is about the justice system doing its job.
Smacks83 Smacks83 8 years
How awful! What scares me is how many poor women who were raped won't report it because they know they don't have the money to pay for the kit? Are they trying to say the only rapes that count are those of the rich?
Symphonee Symphonee 8 years
Women are going to have to be subjected to hassling and the constant daily (not to mention rude) reminder of the day when they were violated. Texas is just slipping so far down a slippery slope, its not funny. It's deplorable
wackdoodle wackdoodle 8 years
Up next Texas will start charging the families of murder victims for the police investigation and prosecution of the person who killed their loved one. And Texas will ask that if the accused is found guilty of murder that the family of the victim pay for the incarceration of the accused. I have always loved the beauty of Texas and I have many friends and some family living there but honestly sometimes that state goes overboard in their embracing of being a rogue/rebel state and goes right into hurting their citizens rather than negating harm or being of benefit to their citizens.
janneth janneth 8 years
Why does it seem that Texas has so many criminal justice horror stories? The message is: don't report this. It was probably partly your fault. And it's gonna cost you for putting us to the trouble.
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