In a Manhattan news conference last week, Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced that the federal government and the city of New York will contribute a joint $79 million to helping police agencies across the country clear their backlog of rape kits. Rape kits consist of DNA samples taken from victims of sexual assault; the samples are meant to provide evidence to catch a perpetrator, but USA Today reported last June that over 70,000 rape kits have gone unexamined in the U.S. due to lack of funds, meaning thousands of cases have gone ignored for decades, even if there is ample evidence for an indictment. But now, the federal government has approved $41 million in grant awards for 20 U.S. jurisdictions, while Vance’s office is donating $38 million to 32 jurisdictions. The effort represents “the best opportunity in a generation to take rapists out of our communities,” said Vance. According to the New York Times, Attorney General Lynch stated that the grants would also go toward analyzing why such an enormous backlog occurred in the first place, and toward financing investigations and persecutions.
Contributor: Celeste Montaño