by Edward B. Lyon
In August 2011, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) officials told the legislature about the state's backlog of 20,000 untested rape kits. A law was enacted requiring police agencies to submit newly gathered kits for testing within 30 days. In 2013, $11 million was appropriated to pay for this.
By 2015, Houston overcame its accumulation of over 6,600 rape kits. This yielded 850 hits in the FBI's DNA database and resulted in 29 arrests. Houstonites paid millions of dollars coupled with state funds to accomplish this.
In June 2017, the Austin American Statesman reported that mold was discovered growing on hundreds of untested rape kits stored by Austin police since the 1990s. In May 2017, the state-wide, pre-2011 backlog remained at over 3,000 kits, while thousands of sexual assaults occur annually.
House Bill 1729, effective September 2017, requires the DPS to ask citizens applying for or renewing driver's licenses or identification cards to donate money to fund rape kit testing. It is estimated over $1 million could be raised yearly. The DPS reported this procedure raised $1,452,937 for veterans' assistance, $501,516 for the organ donor registry, and $362,461 for educating blind people in 2016.
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