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Public Health New Mexico

Legislature Funds Rape Kit Processing Despite Tight Budget

Marisa Demarco / KUNM
The ceiling above the Roundhouse rotunda

The legislative session ended at noon on Thursday, Feb. 18, and even though funding was scarce, lawmakers found money to process sexual assault evidence that’s been piling up around the state. 

Rep. Moe Maestas said this was the tightest budget in memory. "We managed to squeeze out $1.6 million for this very important service," he said. "And once we’re caught up, we can remain caught up, and have swift and certain justice for these victims of sexual assault."

There are nearly 5,500 untested kits in the state, some of them dating back many years. "It’ll take three years to get through the backlog," Maestas added, "but this funding will jumpstart the labs, hire some new scientists, some new equipment, and hopefully we can get caught up."

The $400,000 that’s been allocated to sexual assault services is essential, he said, because it's intended to make sure there are people to help survivors when memories of their assault are resurrected.

The allocation had bipartisan support in both houses, and Maestas said lawmakers are committed to continuing to fund the work.

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