Statement of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., on Congressional Funding to Help Eliminate Rape Kit Backlogs in Cities Nationwide

December 10, 2014

“Survivors of sexual assault deserve to know that the invasive examination they underwent had a purpose, and the resulting kit was not left to gather dust on a forgotten shelf. I thank Congressional leaders, sexual assault survivors, and their advocates for working together on this allocation, which will help bring long overdue justice to survivors, and solve crimes across state lines. Coupled with my Office’s investment of up to $35 million, this commitment could provide the momentum to eliminate the national rape kit backlog once and for all.”

The Congressional appropriation was included in the FY2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act released late last evening.

Last month, District Attorney Vance, together with Mariska Hargitay, Founder and President of the Joyful Heart Foundation, announced that he is pledging up to $35 million in funding to eliminate backlogs of untested sexual assault evidence kits nationwide, generating DNA evidence that will help solve cases in New York City, New York State and across the country. The District Attorney’s initiative – funded with forfeiture dollars obtained through the investigation and prosecution of large, international banks – commits funds to analyze untested rape kits, audit the scope of jurisdictions’ backlogs, create data- and information-sharing systems, and ensure jurisdictions adhere to best practices for the testing and use of rape kit evidence. Jurisdictions across the country are expected to apply to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for funding to test their kits.

Editorials in the New York Times, Newsday, and the Washington Post praised the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s allocation, and echoed District Attorney Vance’s call on Congress to match his investment. District Attorney Vance renewed his call upon Congress as recently as yesterday, in comments on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.