Sunday, May 10, 2009

Why does anyone live in Texas?

For a state that puts more people to death than any other in this country (437 since 1976 with 373 more people on death row; by comparison, Virginia is second with 103 inmates killed since 1976) it's no real shock when news comes out that Texas has been making rape victims pay for their rape kit. Does anyone outside of Texas really expect anything less from that state?

Again: Texas is making victims of rape pay for the very exam that most often provides evidence that the person was raped.

Every single Texas lawmaker and any other official involved in this should be hanging their heads in shame right now. Every. Single. One. Not only because making a rape victim pay for a rape kit -- which is used to collect evidence for the state -- is outrageous, but because no one has done anything about it, and some officials are actually defending the practice.

You see, there's this law called the U.S. Violence Against Women Act, which requires states to pay for anonymous rape tests if they want to receive funding for other programs. There's also the Crime Victims' Compensation Fund, designed to cover the cost of things like rape kits and other medical bills associated with crimes. The fund in Texas has consistently had "tens of millions of dollars" left over at the end of each year, indicating they have plenty of money to cover the costs of every single rape kit performed in the state. In 2008 alone, the fund had $66,572,261 in unspent money.

But, the spokesman for the state's attorney general chimes in with this (read full story here):

Attorney General's spokesman Jerry Strickland said the crime victim fund is enforcing strict guidelines imposed by the legislature as to which bills are paid and which victims are sent a denial notice. Otherwise, he said that fund could become "insolvent." He said state law is clear that crime victims must exhaust all other potential funding sources, such as local police or their own health insurance. "The legislature set it up that way," said Strickland.

Thank you, Strickland, for making sure the public knows that the lawmakers are in fact the one's behind this. And you have got to be kidding me with the "their own health insurance" line. Why in the world should a health insurance company pay for the state to collect evidence in a crime? This isn't about treatment; a rape kit is not treatment. It's an invasive exam that is designed to gather evidence so that the state will have it available if the case goes forward.

Women, if you or anyone you know is every sexually assaulted, know that you do not have to pay for a rape kit. Do not pay for it, no matter what. If creditors call and threaten you, send them to the police department handling your case or to a lawmaker. Try talking to the hospital that did the exam and see if they can help. Most importantly, don't get raped in Texas.

All this brings me back to my original question: Why does anyone live in Texas? Victims are treated like criminals, and judging by the number of people put to death there, it's got to be the most dangerous place in this country. Can we just grant the governor's wish to secede already? What are we waiting for?

More reading:

Anyone know of anywhere else this is happening?

1 comment:

Razor said...

Disgusting, do Texas police make the families of murder victims pay for fingerprints or other DNA testing? Ri-goddamn-diculous.

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