Kamala Harris proposes $1 billion plan to eliminate rape kit backlogs
Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE
Kamala Harris unveiled a $1 billion plan on Thursday to fully eliminate states' rape kit backlogs if elected president.
Why it matters: Hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits are estimated to be sitting around in police stations around the U.S.
By the numbers: The proposed $1 billion would not only aid states to analyze their backlogged rape kits within four years, but also help them implement a plan to prevent untested kits from accumulating en masse in the future.
- Harris' program would cost approximately $100 million annually, though her team didn't share details on how she would pay for it.
- One rape kit costs about $1,000 to $1,500 to test, per End The Backlog.
Between the lines: Under this plan, states can either ask for federal funding to process the rape kits on their own or work directly with the FBI to eliminate the backlog.
- They'll also be required to do things like report the number of untested rape kits annually; implement a "short time frame" for submitting and testing new samples; make these kits available statewide, even in remote areas; track rape kits; and give patients the option to be updated on the status of their rape kit processing.
As California’s attorney general, Harris implemented a program to clear a backlog of 1,300 untested rape kits around the state. "We need the same focus at the national level to pursue justice and help hold predators accountable," she said in a statement.
- Now, as a presidential candidate, she's made justice for women a clear theme in her campaign, from ending the gender pay gap to proposing an abortion plan in the mold of the Voting Rights Act.
The big picture: Don't expect this to become a dominant issue in the 2020 presidential election — unless candidates start addressing it themselves on the national debate stage.
- Earlier this year, Joe Biden, who wrote the first rape kit backlog law, tweeted: "An untested rape kit means a survivor without justice. ... [T]esting kits can identify men who have committed multiple rapes — and might again. Test every kit. Every single one."
- There have been zero questions asked about policies to address sexual harassment at presidential primary debates between 1996-2016, per a Time's Up study.