Texas drivers can now donate to help rape kit backlog - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Texas drivers can now donate to help rape kit backlog

Source: KFDA Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA Source: KFDA

Texans seeking to help the state dwindle the number of untested rape kits can now do so while registering for a driver's license. 

The state's license application already asks if drivers want to donate money for veteran aid and even tissue registry, and at the start of September, a new option was added allowing applicants to donate to crime labs across the state that process rape kits.

Several efforts to minimize the number of untested kits have been made since 2011, when the Department of Public Safety reported there were over 20,000 rape kits which had yet to be tested. 

Amarillo Police Department Sergeant Brent Barbee says he thinks a big part of the problem is a lack of funding.

"This is like anything else, it requires time, people and equipment," Barbee said. "The more people you have the more quickly it gets done."

Becky Oneal, a nurse at Northwest Texas Hospital, says an average of about 400 rape kits are collected yearly in Amarillo, but tests are often performed within six months.

"They are not being processed immediately because of the backlog situation, but from what I understand in our area the backlog is no more then six months to maybe up to a year," said Oneal. 

Barbee explained many sexual assault victims have unrealistic expectations about the amount of time it takes to process kits because of the portrayal of testing seen on TV. 

"I think TV provides very bad training for people, because on TV people pick up the evidence, drive it to the lab, shine a little blue light on it and the drivers license of the offender pops up," said Barbee.

Still, Oneal says she hopes the new opportunity for drivers to donate will help victims get the closure they need. 

"Nothing can be done without money unfortunately, so if people wanted to donate that money that way the same as donating the organs, I think that's very important," said Oneal.

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