Congratulations to Louisiana lawmakers for taking an important first step toward providing justice for victims of rape.
Our country's failure to promptly test the DNA evidence that is collected following a sexual assault has become a national disgrace. Experts estimate that nationwide as many as 400,000 rape evidence kits may currently be sitting in police evidence rooms awaiting testing.
We know our state is contributing to this problem. The backlog in New Orleans alone at one point had grown to more than a thousand untested rape kits. Sexual assault victims are forced to undergo an extensive exam to collect this DNA evidence. Our nation's failure to promptly process this material truly is a second assault on them. It also has resulted in many other crimes because the rapists who could be apprehended remain free to commit other rapes.
What our Louisiana lawmakers have done now is given police and prosecutors a deadline to report their progress on this issue. Understanding the scope of the problem is an important first step for Louisiana, but it is only a first step.
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