Nearly 90,000 women reported they were raped in 2008 (many more rapes go unreported). These rape survivors often go through the additional trauma of having physical evidence collected from their bodies and stored in a "rape kit" to help find and prosecute their rapists. Over 70% of rapists are repeat offenders, so timely arrests and prosecution are crucial.
Yet more than 20,000 rape kits have gone untested in major American cities, and over 6,000 more still await testing after months and in some cases years. How many rapes could have been prevented if this crucial evidence had been tested and used to prosecute criminals?
To add insult to injury, hospitals sometimes even charge rape victims for the cost of these rape kits. Can you imagine -- a crime victim being charged for the collection of forensic evidence? It's an outrage.
I am writing to urge you to cosponsor the Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault Act of 2009 (S. 2736 / H.R. 4114). A CBS News investigation found that over 20,000 rape kits in major American cities have gone untested and more than 6,000 others await testing, in some cases for years, while rapists remain on our streets committing crimes. Research shows that over 70% of rapists are repeat offenders. We must strengthen federal law to ensure rape victims receive the justice they deserve and that law enforcement takes prosecution of rape seriously.
We have the evidence needed to prosecute many rape crimes. The national arrest rate for rape is only 25%. But in New York City, where every rape kit is tested in a timely manner, the arrest rate is 70%.
The Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault Act of 2009 would, among other things:
* Require hospitals and health care providers to inform victims of their right to a free rape kit examination;
* Require states to pay the cost of rape kits upfront;
* Create incentives for local and state governments to reduce rape kit backlogs and test every kit in a timely manner;
* Instruct the Department of Justice to conduct an annual review and report of the number of untested rape kits across the country; and
* Provide funds for additional sexual assault examiners to collect rape kits and provide trauma counseling to survivors.
Rape survivors deserve justice -- and all women and girls deserve to live their lives free of fear of rape. Please cosponsor the Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault Act of 2009 today.
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