AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Officials say Texas drivers donated more than $560,000 to clear a backlog of untested rape kits but the state can’t find enough cities and counties to take the money.
The Dallas Morning News reports that only Harris County has applied for the dollars. The funds were raised through a Texas law passed last year that allows residents to donate money upon renewing their driver’s license or vehicle registration.
Victim rights groups at the time said the effort appeared unprecedented. Texas has an estimated 15,000 untested rape kits statewide.
In April, Austin Police said a backlog of rape kits were almost entirely taken care of as a result of a partnership between APD and the Texas Department of Public Safety. About 310 kits were waiting to be processed at the time. A $200,000 federal grant helped local officials get a handle on the backlog, they said.
Meanwhile, a federal lawsuit was filed in June accusing APD and the Travis County District Attorney, among others, of mishandling multiple sexual assault cases. The lawsuit alleges the county failed to test DNA evidence for “years at a time,” and “refused” to prosecute cases.
Dallas police have a backlog of nearly 1,200 rape kits. But local officials there say the issue hasn’t been funding but finding a lab with enough capacity.
Democratic state Rep. Victoria Neave authored the law. She promises the dollars will be used.
Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com