Government in Action
Rape-prevention activists estimate that local governments have backlogs of untested evidentiary "rape kits" that total up to 400,000 nationally — signifying free crimes for rapists, lost justice for victims, and ruined reputations for men wrongly arrested. (As TV police dramas emphasize, many rape victims are reluctant to submit to the indignity of swabbing and photographing so soon after being violated and comply only because detectives assure them of the rape kit's importance.) Memphis has an inventory of 12,000, and Texas at least 16,000 — dating back to the 1980s. However, the cost of testing (about $500 each) is daunting for many city budgets, according to a February report by the Rape Kit Action Project in New York.