AL Congressman secures $102M to speed up testing of rape kits

AL Congressman secures $102M to speed up testing of rape kits
Funds secured to test backlogged rape kits. (Source: WBRC)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Some much needed funding will soon be used to eliminate rape kit and DNA backlogs across the country.

It's a major issue right here in Jefferson County.

There are around 3,800 untested rape kits in Jefferson County.

But next year, over $100 million will be used to help clear that backlog.

Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04) told us in a statement Tuesday he worked to include $102 million into the 2020 Federal Budget to tackle the rape kit backlog.

He says for thousands of victims of sexual assault across the country, justice has been delayed because of the wait time for DNA evidence to be examined.

“Every untested rape kit represents a victim denied justice,” said Congressman Aderholt. “Every tested rape kit represents that victim’s hope for justice.”

“That sort of funding could go towards potentially more investigators, more advocates, more prosecutors. Honestly, the system just needs more people in order to handle these cases to make sure they get all the time and energy that they need,” said Aryn Gieger-Sedgwick, Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Program Director with the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.

We also spoke with Camille Cooper, the Vice President of Public Policy at Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.

She said this funding is a huge deal, and it’s a $34 million increase for state and local labs.

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