TX Women Paying for Own Rape Kits?

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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.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

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Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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