By Maria Trovato
This month, the U.S. Justice Department announced $34 million in new grants to combat the massive backlog of unprocessed rape kits nationwide. But for the third year in a row, Maryland applied and failed to receive funding from this federal program and will not receive any of these grants.
The state of Maryland is currently in major need for this type of funding. After reviewing the state audit of police departments conducted last year, the Baltimore Sun reported that there are currently about 3,700 untested rape kits across the state. Evidence found from rape kits is often the key factor that can lead to convictions in cases of sexual abuse. By leaving these kits untested, many rapists and sexual offenders could escape punishment and victims could not see justice for the crimes done against them.
The Baltimore County Police Department has applied for funding for Maryland from this program all three years it has been available. This year, their application was denied by the Justice Department for the reason that the “project design and implantation section needs to provide more details-for example, the goals and objectives.” Maryland was one of the only states who applied to be rejected.
Cristina Johnson, the president of UMD’s student organization, Preventing Sexual Assault (PSA), asserts that this news is one of many examples of funding being denied for issues concerning sexual abuse.
“It reinstates the overall problem with funding for preventing sexual assault and funding for helping survivors and anything involving sexual assault,” the senior journalism major said. “I think getting funding has been a major struggle, including at our university.”
She goes on to explain the severity of the problem with the current backlog of untested rape kits and what PSA aims to do about this issue and issues like this.
“With so many unlogged [rape kits], there are so many cases and so many survivors going through with living on without being able to take action if they want to,” she said. “With PSA, we try to pressure as much as possible and demonstrate how many people care about this issue and how many people would benefit if they were more funding.”
Featured image from Wikimedia Commons.