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Will Lawmakers Address Rape Kit Backlog?

West Midlands Police via CC

In the final hours of the 2016 session, lawmakers are scrambling to push legislation through and finish the budget. Several measures would address the almost 5,500 untested rape kits in the state, including one that creates a task force to help survivors and ensure their rights.

Julianna Koob with the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs said justice has to be matched with services.

"Those victims—some of them who were raped 20 years ago—are now realizing that their kits may not have been processed," she said. "When victims have the courage to go and provide evidence by going through a sexual assault exam and collecting that evidence, we want to make sure those kits are being processed."

A twin version of this legislation has already passed on the Senate side, and it's been waiting on the House calendar for a couple of days. This is a memorial so it would not require the governor’s signature.

Two bills that would put more than $1.5 million toward the problem have been folded into the budget. It’s unclear, though, whether that funding will survive the slashing underway now.

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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