Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris says she will close the nationwide rape kit backlog in her first term if she makes it into the White House. The announcement came on Wednesday ahead of the California senator’s scheduled appearance on the Rachel Maddow show.
Harris’ public commitment comes on the heels of news that financier, and one-time Trump associate, Jeff Epstein was arrested in connection to a sex trafficking ring that was allegedly being run between the states of New York and Florida. Epstein is also accused of raping teenage girls. The news of his arrest and subsequent allegations cast a dark shadow on U.S. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta who previously brokered a plea deal for the registered sex offender.
The proposal by Harris includes investing $1 billion towards the testing of rape kits, and puts measures in place that would ensure that states never experience backlogs again. According to Harris, funding for the program would cost less than what reports say taxpayers have spent on Trump’s numerous golf outings.
“The federal government can and should prioritize justice for survivors of sex abuse, assault and rape,” Harris said. “As California’s Attorney General, I committed resources and attention to clearing a backlog of 1,300 untested rape kits at state-run labs, and we got it done within my first year in office. We need the same focus at the national level to pursue justice and help hold predators accountable.”
Harris, who sponsors the Survivors’ Access to Supportive Care Act in the U.S. Senate, is also calling on states to enact four reforms which includes counting and reporting the number of untested rape kits, putting shorter turn-around times for the testing of new kits, allow for the tracking of kits which will be available to victims, and increasing the availability of the kits.
“We need leaders committed to fighting for justice for survivors of abuse, not protecting predators,” Harris said.