Rape is not a subject that many people enjoy talking about, but we have a serious problem in the state of Texas when it comes to the number of rapes that go unsolved because the DNA collected from the victim is never tested. As of January 2017, the state of Texas had 19,051 untested rape kits sitting in crime labs across the state. The rape kit consists of various swabs and samples of the victim, with the hope being that the assailant left his DNA on the victim during the rape and can be identified. In order to get a conviction in court, and have the assailant punished, the rape kits must be tested. If these kits are not being tested, then rapists are able to roam the streets and avoid punishment while remaining a threat to other women.
Despite the fact that tens of millions of dollars have been allocated to various law enforcement agencies throughout the state for the express purpose of testing these kits, the number of outstanding kits is still staggering. Why does Texas have so many untested rape kits? According to End the Backlog, a nonprofit in Texas that is devoted to finding ways to make rape a higher priority amongst law enforcement agencies, this backlog has been created by four factors: lack of clear procedures and outdated policies, lack of training about the power of DNA, refusal to test kits when the assailant is unknown, and a lack of money. While outdated policies and lack of training is a relatively easy fix, how do we get additional money to test these kits?
Enter Victoria Neave, a freshman state representative out of Dallas County. Her HB1729 bill, which was co-authored with various other members of the House, would allow citizens of Texas to voluntarily donate to a fund that will only be used for the purpose of testing rape kits. They can make this donation when they go in to get new driver’s licenses or when they renew their expiring ones. The testing of rape kits will be done by “accredited crime laboratories,” which means that the police departments will actually be outsourcing the testing of the kits to approved private labs. This bill passed the House at the beginning of the month and is now pending a vote in the state Senate. If passed by the Senate, this will be a very large victory for the thousands of victims who have not been able to see their attackers punished. This will also be a victory for those who believe that the free market is better equipped than the government to offer solutions for complex problems.
The Libertarian Party’s stance on most issues has always been that the free market can operate more efficiently than the government. When you remove a lot of the unnecessary bureaucracy that exists within the government, you are able to see solutions a lot more readily. This is a simple concept but is so often missed by our elected representatives because they do not benefit when we take power out of their hands. This bill, and hopefully the eventual implementation of its requirements, will show that private citizens can facilitate a more effective justice system for rape victims in the state of Texas than the state itself can facilitate due to its lack of resources. Nobody needs to be forced to pay for something they do not support because those who do support something will step up when given the opportunity.
I just love the free market. Don’t you?