Sen. John Cornyn and U.S. Rep. Kay Granger will be in Fort Worth Monday afternoon to talk about a bill pending in Congress to help eliminate the national backlog of untested rape kits.
There are an estimated 400,000 untested kits sitting in labs and police evidence rooms.
Earlier this year, Cornyn introduced legislation that would increase federal money for DNA testing of the rape kits – evidence gathered in sexual assault cases.
The senator says each one of them could hold the key that solves a crime, puts a rapist behind bars, and extends justice to a victim. The DNA information gathered from each kit is supposed to be filed into the national Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).
That system allows law enforcement to cross-check an arrested offender for DNA links to other earlier crimes. The Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry, or SAFER Act, would provide money to local and state agencies to count and catalog their untested kits.
The date of the crime, the statute of limitations in the case, and the testing status of the rape kit would be fed into a new registry. It would help prioritize time-sensitive testing and track progress.
State Sen. Wendy Davis, a Fort Worth Democrat, has estimated there are at least 20,000 untested rape kits in Texas. Davis is working on new state funding to help clear the backlog.