TX Women Paying for Own Rape Kits?

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Consider this the Friday edition of the “You Gotta Be Kidding Me” beat: Women in Houston are being forced to pay for processing their own rape kits. So I guess that means that people claiming burglary will have to pay for fingerprint analysis, right? From Click2Houston.com:

Victims of sexual assault are getting bills, rejection letters and pushy calls from bill collectors while a state crime victims’ fund sits full of cash…

“I’m the victim, and yet here I am. I’m asked to pay this bill and my credit’s going to get hurt,” said a single mom from Houston.

She received bills marked, “delinquent,” after she visited a hospital where police told her to have evidence gathered. Officers assured her she would not pay a dime for that rape kit to be handled.

…”It is set up legislatively so that the criminal justice system pays for whatever evidence collection occurs,” said Kelly Young, with theHouston Area Women’s Center, a rape crisis facility.

That may be the theory, but the reality is that women alleging rape get to experience it twice; first the perp, then the bureaucracy that clearly discriminates against rape claimants.

Great. You survive the rape, you muster the gumption to press charges and undergo that hideous rape exam within hours of the crime. Then six or so months later, just when you’re just starting to heal emotionally, you find that the state has thrown you to the bill collectors so you get to relive the rape again.

Read the piece to see the run-around women have to go through to get the bills paid,if they ever do; we’ll never know how many just pay these huge bills, or take the hit to their credit reports, simply to have the whole horrible thing behind them. Just imagine calling some faceless bureaucrat trying to get these bills paid; “Hi. I was…you know… raped and you guys said you’d paid for the… rape kit?”

Here’s the worst part:

Texas State Comptroller’s office figures show the fund has tens of millions of dollars left over at the end of each year.

In September 2006, the balance was $67,058,646 and one year later, the balance was $57,669,432.

In 2008, that figure was up again to $66,572,261 that was left unspent in the fund.

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.

This is the kind of thing that keeps me a hairy-legged, humorless, paranoid Paleo-feminist.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate