Thursday, May 14, 2009

Why does Texas add insult to traumatic injury in rape cases?

Lately I’ve seen several stories in the news about rape victims being charged for rape kits used to collect evidence for prosecution. I’m absolutely shocked, can we expect that the next time a store is robbed the owner will be presented with a bill for collecting finger prints? Will shooting victims be billed for ballistics tests? When the state crime victims' fund sits full of cash, having grown from $57 million in 2007 to $66 million in 2008 why are victims of rape being singled out and billed $1,200 to $1,800 for evidence collection?

According to Kelly Young, with the Houston Area Women's Center, "It is set up legislatively so that the criminal justice system pays for whatever evidence collection occurs."

Police departments are reimbursed for up to $700 by the Texas Crime Victims' Compensation Fund, and many departments cover the bills if they exceed that. If they don’t, victims can apply the remainder to be covered by the fund but many are denied over minor coding mistakes on the forms filled out by the police and hospitals. If the victim doesn’t pay the bill quickly they start getting notices that the bill is overdue and up for collection as well reported to credit reported to credit agencies as deadbeats.

Given the trauma these victims have suffered why aren’t some of the millions left unused each year used to pay a clerk to resolve the paperwork snafus that are adding insult to the already tragic injury suffered?

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