Senate Approves Rape Kit Testing Bill

Some of the thousands of untested rape kits lining evidence storage room shelves statewide would finally get testing under a bill the Texas Senate approved today.

A sexual assault evidence collection kit

Some of the thousands of untested rape kits lining evidence storage room shelves statewide would finally get testing under a bill the Texas Senate approved today.

SB 1636 by state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, would require a police department to submit a rape kit to a crime lab within at least 30 days of determining that a sexual assault has occurred. DNA analysis would have to be done no later than 90 days after the sexual assault was reported. After testing, the Texas Department of Public Safety would compare the DNA profile to those already in databases maintained by the state and the FBI. To the extent that funding is available, the bill also requires testing of untested rape kits in active cases since 1996.

Initially, an $11 million price tag on the rape kit bill generated concerns among lawmakers and law enforcement officials. Davis, however, changed the measure to require testing only when funding is available and ensure that no new money would be required.

State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, commended Davis for sponsoring the bill. "Thank you on behalf of so many thousands of women who submit to testing and learn later it was not used," he said.

The measure passed the Senate unanimously and now heads to the Texas House for a vote.

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