Harris unveils plan to close national rape kit backlog in first term

Harris unveils plan to close national rape kit backlog in first term
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White House hopeful Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisIs Texas learning to love ObamaCare? Democrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus Politicians mourn the death of Bill Withers MORE (D-Calif.) unveiled a plan Thursday she said would close the nationwide rape kit backlog by the end of her first term.

The proposal would invest $1 billion to allow states to work to eliminate the backlog of untested rape kits within four years and enact measures to ensure backlogs don’t grow in the future.

In announcing the proposal, Harris knocked President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump fires intelligence community inspector general who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Trump organization has laid off over 1000 employees due to pandemic: report Trump invokes Defense Production Act to prevent export of surgical masks, gloves MORE for golfing. 

"The annual estimated cost of the program is $100 million, which is $2 million less than what taxpayers have reportedly spent on President Trump’s golf trips," Harris said in a press release, citing a HuffPost report.

Harris touted her efforts as California attorney general to close the state's backlog of DNA analysis and more than 1,000 untested rape kits in state-run labs.


“The federal government can and should prioritize justice for survivors of sex abuse, assault and rape,” Harris added. “As California’s Attorney General, I committed resources and attention to clearing a backlog of 1,300 untested rape kits at state-run labs, and we got it done within my first year in office. We need the same focus at the national level to pursue justice and help hold predators accountable.” 

States would be mandated to implement four reforms if they wish to receive the funding: annually count and report the number of untested rape kits; require the submission and testing of all newly collected rape kits within “a short time frame”; track rape kits and allow victims to know the status of their kits; and increase the availability of rape kits statewide, including in rural and remote areas. 

States would have the option of either working with the FBI to close their backlog or receive federal funding to process the rape kits on their own. 

The plan’s unveiling comes as the Jeffrey Epstein case is thrust into the spotlight. Epstein was indicted this week on charges of sex trafficking underage girls in New York and Florida and faces accusations of raping teenagers.

-Updated July 12 at 12 p.m.