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(Slate)   Because too many rape kits are never tested even in ten years, Wendy Davis, the Democratic candidate for Texas governor, wants to remove the statute of limitations for rape to ensure those rape kits are tested   (slate.com) divider line 418
    More: Spiffy, Sen. Wendy Davis, statute of limitations, rape kits, DNA matching, Amanda Marcotte, Texas Governor  
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1655 clicks; posted to Politics » on 25 Aug 2014 at 3:44 AM (26 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



418 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2014-08-24 10:01:43 PM  
fta ...the estimated backlog of 16,000 untested rape kits in the state

Meh. In order to process that many rape kits, Texas would have to raise and spend taxpayer dollars. Good luck getting enough middle-aged white guys to vote for that.
 
2014-08-24 10:08:05 PM  

Notabunny: fta ...the estimated backlog of 16,000 untested rape kits in the state

Meh. In order to process that many rape kits, Texas would have to raise and spend taxpayer dollars. Good luck getting enough middle-aged white guys to vote for that.


Or they can just cut education funding some more. It's not like Texas needs education.
 
2014-08-24 10:12:33 PM  
If they cut taxes on the rich they can make enough money to test all those kits.
 
2014-08-24 10:14:11 PM  
I don't like this idea.  Statutes of limitations exist to protect defendants, who are assumed innocent until proven guilty.  Trying to defend against a rape charge 15, 20, 25 years after the fact would be insane.

Throw money at the rape kits until the backlog is processed, and keep it flowing so a backlog never happens again, but don't violate a key element of our justice system because the state/city can't get its shiat together.
 
2014-08-24 10:17:43 PM  
Then there is the minor problem that comes from the interpretation of the ex post facto clauses to prohibit retroactive extension of criminal statutes of limitation.
 
2014-08-24 10:26:10 PM  

RodneyToady: I don't like this idea.  Statutes of limitations exist to protect defendants, who are assumed innocent until proven guilty.  Trying to defend against a rape charge 15, 20, 25 years after the fact would be insane.

Throw money at the rape kits until the backlog is processed, and keep it flowing so a backlog never happens again, but don't violate a key element of our justice system because the state/city can't get its shiat together.


I tend to agree, but I could see eliminating the statute of limitations if a case meets certain guidelines:

1. There is no way for the encounter to have been lawful (such as the victim having been under the age of consent or incapacitated due to drugs/alcohol with toxicology results backing this up).

AND

2. There was physical evidence that could have only come from a sexual encounter (such as semen or bite marks in sexual areas, but not hair or something that could be left without a sexual encounter)

AND

3. That physical evidence was obtained within a short timespan of the original complaint (how short makes sense would be a matter for forensic people to determine)

In cases such as that where there's no chance of a 'he said/she said' type of situation because there's no way for the encounter to have been consensual, I can see the logic is abandoning the statute of limitations.

In other cases though, the statute of limitations make sense.
 
2014-08-24 10:26:32 PM  

RodneyToady: I don't like this idea.  Statutes of limitations exist to protect defendants, who are assumed innocent until proven guilty.  Trying to defend against a rape charge 15, 20, 25 years after the fact would be insane.

Throw money at the rape kits until the backlog is processed, and keep it flowing so a backlog never happens again, but don't violate a key element of our justice system because the state/city can't get its shiat together.


Murder doesn't have a Statute of Limitations. Given how heinous a crime rape is, why should it be different?
 
2014-08-24 10:30:07 PM  

SilentStrider: RodneyToady: I don't like this idea.  Statutes of limitations exist to protect defendants, who are assumed innocent until proven guilty.  Trying to defend against a rape charge 15, 20, 25 years after the fact would be insane.

Throw money at the rape kits until the backlog is processed, and keep it flowing so a backlog never happens again, but don't violate a key element of our justice system because the state/city can't get its shiat together.

Murder doesn't have a Statute of Limitations. Given how heinous a crime rape is, why should it be different?


You can't consent to being murdered.  Rape is different because the same act can be legal or criminal depending on consent.  When you have a potential victim who says an encounter was rape, and the accused who says it was consensual sex you have a challenge of determining who is telling the truth.
 
2014-08-24 10:32:26 PM  

SilentStrider: RodneyToady: I don't like this idea.  Statutes of limitations exist to protect defendants, who are assumed innocent until proven guilty.  Trying to defend against a rape charge 15, 20, 25 years after the fact would be insane.

Throw money at the rape kits until the backlog is processed, and keep it flowing so a backlog never happens again, but don't violate a key element of our justice system because the state/city can't get its shiat together.

Murder doesn't have a Statute of Limitations. Given how heinous a crime rape is, why should it be different?


Gee, I don't know.  Maybe because unlike a murder, the victim can testify if they want to.

And because as bad as rape is, it's not anywhere near as bad as murder.

/Unless it's a rape/murder.
//Or a murder/rape.
 
2014-08-24 10:34:57 PM  

RodneyToady: I don't like this idea.  Statutes of limitations exist to protect defendants, who are assumed innocent until proven guilty.  Trying to defend against a rape charge 15, 20, 25 years after the fact would be insane.

Throw money at the rape kits until the backlog is processed, and keep it flowing so a backlog never happens again, but don't violate a key element of our justice system because the state/city can't get its shiat together.


This is the correct answer.

All others are wrong.
 
2014-08-24 10:45:19 PM  

enry: If they cut taxes on the rich they can make enough money to test all those kits.


There's no income tax in Texas.
 
2014-08-24 10:55:30 PM  

Kuroboom: enry: If they cut taxes on the rich they can make enough money to test all those kits.

There's no income tax in Texas.


When it comes to giving rich people tax breaks, they will find a way.
 
2014-08-24 11:28:50 PM  
That would be great except that there is no retroactive effect for this. The perps would be tried and entranced according to Whatever statutes were in effect when the crime was committed, right?

/Still gonna vote for her
//least insane person in the running so far
///defeating rick Perry's hair will be difficult
 
2014-08-25 12:42:27 AM  

dittybopper: And because as bad as rape is, it's not anywhere near as bad as murder.


Reported?
 
2014-08-25 12:45:26 AM  

dittybopper: SilentStrider: RodneyToady: I don't like this idea.  Statutes of limitations exist to protect defendants, who are assumed innocent until proven guilty.  Trying to defend against a rape charge 15, 20, 25 years after the fact would be insane.

Throw money at the rape kits until the backlog is processed, and keep it flowing so a backlog never happens again, but don't violate a key element of our justice system because the state/city can't get its shiat together.

Murder doesn't have a Statute of Limitations. Given how heinous a crime rape is, why should it be different?

Gee, I don't know.  Maybe because unlike a murder, the victim can testify if they want to.

And because as bad as rape is, it's not anywhere near as bad as murder.

/Unless it's a rape/murder.
//Or a murder/rape.


The victim's going to be f*cked up for the rest of their lives as a result. Yes it is just as bad if not worse than murder.
 
2014-08-25 12:46:37 AM  

themindiswatching: Yes it is just as bad if not worse than murder.


Except for the whole "being alive" thing.
 
2014-08-25 12:56:26 AM  

spamdog: themindiswatching: Yes it is just as bad if not worse than murder.

Except for the whole "being alive" thing.


If you have severe PTSD from being raped, not being alive anymore is going to sound awfully tempting.
 
2014-08-25 02:01:21 AM  

dittybopper: And because as bad as rape is, it's not anywhere near as bad as murder.


This is a fairly new idea, you understand. Up until 1977, some states had the death penalty for rape until the SCOTUS struck it down. Then some states passed capital punishment for child rape, because that wasn't covered by the SCOTUS decision. SCOTUS declared capital punishment for child rape unconstitutional just SIX YEARS AGO.
 
2014-08-25 02:03:13 AM  

TuteTibiImperes: You can't consent to being murdered. Rape is different because the same act can be legal or criminal depending on consent.


You can't consent to being manslaughtered either, though there are different degrees of that as well. I don't think that distinction will hold water.
 
2014-08-25 02:08:14 AM  

Somacandra: This is a fairly new idea, you understand.


Not it's not. Murder has always been, will always be, and logically must be the worse crime.

That doesn't mean we should ONLY hang people who do murder. THAT is the relatively new idea.
 
2014-08-25 02:09:58 AM  

spamdog: themindiswatching: Yes it is just as bad if not worse than murder.

Except for the whole "being alive" thing.


Its not uncommon for people to kill themselves after they've been severely traumatized by rape or other kinds of sexual abuse. Rehtaeh Parsons and Audrey Pott did. Hell, there are Yazidi girls committing suicide in Iraq after been mass-raped by ISIL fighters.
 
2014-08-25 02:15:11 AM  

doglover: Murder has always been, will always be, and logically must be the worse crime.


Just because you assert that doesn't make it self-evidently true. If a person tortures another person (through rape or otherwise) for 40 years only to find their victim dying of natural causes, is that a lesser crime than killing someone immediately outright without torturing them? There are perhaps compelling reasons to argue that turning someone's last 40 years into torture is more horrific than a quick and simple death.
 
2014-08-25 02:16:28 AM  

Somacandra: Its not uncommon for people to kill themselves after they've been severely traumatized by rape or other kinds of sexual abuse


It's not uncommon for people to kill themselves after any kind of serious trauma, especially violent trauma.

That doesn't make rape worse than murder, though.
 
2014-08-25 02:38:13 AM  

Somacandra: doglover: Murder has always been, will always be, and logically must be the worse crime.

Just because you assert that doesn't make it self-evidently true. If a person tortures another person (through rape or otherwise) for 40 years only to find their victim dying of natural causes, is that a lesser crime than killing someone immediately outright without torturing them? There are perhaps compelling reasons to argue that turning someone's last 40 years into torture is more horrific than a quick and simple death.


40 years' worth is a LOT of crimes, not just one crime. Let's say they average one rape per month for the next 40 years of that abuse. That's 1440 rapes.

Now, since money is the root of all evil, let's measure that evil in cents.

Let rape be 75% as bad as murder. rape = 75 c murder = $1

A quarter is 5.67 grams. Rape is three quarters. In your example of a toxic relationship it would be 1440 quarters, while murder would only be 4 quarters. That 40 years of abuse would be 360 times as bad with just one assault per month.


Now, if you're talking about the terrible after effects of trauma:

Let's say, despite all evidence, that rape haunts you equally every hour of every day until you die and prevents you from doing anything. You're just catatonic and unable to move for the next 40 years. This is the extreme example, but that's only 350,400 hours of constant suffering.

Murder DOES affect you from the first moment all the way to the end of time. That's unknowable but let's just call it the life of the planet Earth, which will die in 6 billion years. That's 52,560,000,000,000 hours of the same. AT LEAST.
 
2014-08-25 02:39:18 AM  
but are the rape kits legitimate?
 
2014-08-25 02:42:10 AM  

Somacandra: This is a fairly new idea, you understand. Up until 1977, some states had the death penalty for rape until the SCOTUS struck it down. Then some states passed capital punishment for child rape, because that wasn't covered by the SCOTUS decision. SCOTUS declared capital punishment for child rape unconstitutional just SIX YEARS AGO.


Was the concept of rape eligible for the death penalty through 1977 the same as the more inclusive concept we now use?  By that I mean it's possible that the rapes that were prosecuted up until the '70s may have been more likely to be the violent, stranger rape variety, moreso than the too-drunk-to-consent-at-college kind, or the within-marriage kind (which might not have even been categorized as rape in those days).

This is definitely not my area of knowledge, but if I had to guess, those who were given the death penalty probably fell into one of a number of (possibly overlapping) categories, including multiple victims, stranger rapes, rapes using violent coercion and/or a weapon, and non-white guy raping a white woman.

The point being, I think it's likely that in practice, *certain kinds* of rape could result in the death penalty at the time, and the mindset of the powers that be at the time would probably not support the death penalty for many actions that we consider rape today. That said, I don't know how much we should be holding old standards as guides.  It wasn't that long ago that many states mandated prison terms for consensual homosexual sodomy.  And frankly, I think those laws and the capital punishment for rape laws come from the same place: rules of sexual morality.  In terms of the rape victims, I imagine they cared more about a woman's "virtue" than the woman herself.
 
2014-08-25 02:47:20 AM  

SilentStrider: Murder doesn't have a Statute of Limitations. Given how heinous a crime rape is, why should it be different?


Because in a murder case, the victim cannot act as her own advocate.
 
2014-08-25 03:25:48 AM  
This is definitely good political posturing on the part of Wendy Davis - let's get a Republican political candidate making a statement about rape! Any kind of statement at all!

This isn't going to happen without legislative approval, so it's kind of a red herring, but it keeps Wendy in the news and has potential to make her opponent look bad. On top of that, Abbott is mixed up in the scandal Perry was trying to avoid by replacing the D.A., so this might push many female voters, and male voters with the slightest bit of empathy, over the edge to voting for her. A lot depends on Abbott's reaction.
 
2014-08-25 04:12:08 AM  

doglover: Somacandra: doglover: Murder has always been, will always be, and logically must be the worse crime.

Just because you assert that doesn't make it self-evidently true. If a person tortures another person (through rape or otherwise) for 40 years only to find their victim dying of natural causes, is that a lesser crime than killing someone immediately outright without torturing them? There are perhaps compelling reasons to argue that turning someone's last 40 years into torture is more horrific than a quick and simple death.

40 years' worth is a LOT of crimes, not just one crime. Let's say they average one rape per month for the next 40 years of that abuse. That's 1440 rapes.

Now, since money is the root of all evil, let's measure that evil in cents.

Let rape be 75% as bad as murder. rape = 75 c murder = $1

A quarter is 5.67 grams. Rape is three quarters. In your example of a toxic relationship it would be 1440 quarters, while murder would only be 4 quarters. That 40 years of abuse would be 360 times as bad with just one assault per month.


Now, if you're talking about the terrible after effects of trauma:

Let's say, despite all evidence, that rape haunts you equally every hour of every day until you die and prevents you from doing anything. You're just catatonic and unable to move for the next 40 years. This is the extreme example, but that's only 350,400 hours of constant suffering.

Murder DOES affect you from the first moment all the way to the end of time. That's unknowable but let's just call it the life of the planet Earth, which will die in 6 billion years. That's 52,560,000,000,000 hours of the same. AT LEAST.


I there are some logical fallacies or mathematical impossibilities at play here.
 
2014-08-25 04:19:29 AM  
I'd like to know why the back log is so huge and why they are going untested
 
2014-08-25 04:23:08 AM  
Here's Texas bragging about how great they're doing as a state with an economy that's supposedly growing by leaps and bounds and they can't find the $6 Million or so to process those rape kits within the year?

 Many labs are doing DNA testing for identity at prices around $300 per test these days and there's one company that has a "DIY" testing unit which the police can use themselves with an out-of-pocket cost of about $25-$35 per test.

Maybe ten years ago when labs were few and tests cost upwards of $5,000 LE Officials could justify a backlog or claim "budget cuts" were causing the problem, but now that they can do 12-14 tests for the cost of one previous test, that excuse doesn't fly.
 
2014-08-25 04:23:35 AM  

log_jammin: I'd like to know why the back log is so huge and why they are going untested


Some of them might not be needed for trials. Maybe they have other ways of making that conviction. By my suspicion is there's not enough cops investigating the real crimes, like rape.

Traffic tickets and drug busts are where the money's at.
 
2014-08-25 04:28:51 AM  
I'm going to guess there's no civil precedent in Texas for failure to process evidence.
 
2014-08-25 04:31:11 AM  
Well, if it was the state's fault the case wasn't brought in a timely matter, the state should bend to accommodate the fact that they farked up and process and prosecute the cases as if they were brand new.  Besides, let's be honest, this is Texas.  Rape convictions aren't exactly easy to get or all that common because there already has to be some extremely extenuating evidence to get a jury to side with a victim.  Chances are you're only going to get a conviction in the cases you would've gotten convictions with had the kits been processed correctly to begin with, but probably even fewer because of degradation of samples, willingness of victims to testify, treatment of witnesses during trial, witnesses who don't remember what they witnessed, and a host of other reasons. In short, I don't imagine any scenario where thousands of men are suddenly going to get railroaded by fake rape accusations because the state finally decides to do its job.
 
2014-08-25 04:31:27 AM  

log_jammin: I'd like to know why the back log is so huge and why they are going untested


Money. Testing them requires money. Maybe privatizing more of our prisons would help...
 
2014-08-25 04:38:06 AM  

GoodCopBadCop: Then there is the minor problem that comes from the interpretation of the ex post facto clauses to prohibit retroactive extension of criminal statutes of limitation.


Welcome to Texas. Our criminal justice system is so underfunded and undermanned that you can be assured of not getting any.
 
2014-08-25 04:40:49 AM  
There should be no Statute of Limitations on rape or molestation.
 
2014-08-25 04:41:36 AM  

fusillade762: Money. Testing them requires money. Maybe privatizing more of our prisons would help...


lack of money for employees? lab fees? no overtime hours allowed? are the tests for some reason more expensive than other types?

you'd think these law and order types would love to fund stuff like this.

wait a minute...maybe if she promotes this as a way to be able convict and possibly execute more people...
 
2014-08-25 04:46:10 AM  
How much does it cost to process a rape kit while Rick Perry wastes $1.3 million a week on the national guard at the boarder?
 
2014-08-25 04:49:38 AM  
The US military just did away with statutes of limitations for sexual assaults, but it only applies to crimes that were committed after the date of the change.

If the goal is to make all the unprocessed kits good for prosecution wouldn't that criminalize people who are currently not criminally liable for something they've already done? I think there's something about ex post facto laws in the Constitution...

/when has that ever stopped Texas though right?
 
2014-08-25 04:52:04 AM  

Romans 7 19: How much does it cost to process a rape kit while Rick Perry wastes $1.3 million a week on the national guard at the boarder?


You gotta understand.  From the Rick Perry perspective, which is more important?  Keeping people(in this case, brown children) from recieving benefits they may not deserve or spending the money on people who do deserve the benefits.  The answer is, of course, no one should ever get something they don't deserve, even if it means the people who do deserve this thing never get it.
 
2014-08-25 04:54:14 AM  
That's a lot of rape Texas....WTF??????

What number do you come up with when you add 16,000 untested rape kits over a 10 year period to the cases they have actually tested and possibly prosecuted? I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this and I feel a little sick right now.
 
2014-08-25 04:56:22 AM  

lawboy87: Here's Texas bragging about how great they're doing as a state with an economy that's supposedly growing by leaps and bounds and they can't find the $6 Million or so to process those rape kits within the year?

 Many labs are doing DNA testing for identity at prices around $300 per test these days and there's one company that has a "DIY" testing unit which the police can use themselves with an out-of-pocket cost of about $25-$35 per test.

Maybe ten years ago when labs were few and tests cost upwards of $5,000 LE Officials could justify a backlog or claim "budget cuts" were causing the problem, but now that they can do 12-14 tests for the cost of one previous test, that excuse doesn't fly.


Texas has limited collection for its DNA database to begin with -- you get into the database if you're convicted of a felony, but only a few circumstances will test arrestees.

Maybe it's because of all the creationists there.
 
2014-08-25 04:56:43 AM  

gadian: Well, if it was the state's fault the case wasn't brought in a timely matter, the state should bend to accommodate the fact that they farked up and process and prosecute the cases as if they were brand new.  Besides, let's be honest, this is Texas.  Rape convictions aren't exactly easy to get or all that common because there already has to be some extremely extenuating evidence to get a jury to side with a victim.  Chances are you're only going to get a conviction in the cases you would've gotten convictions with had the kits been processed correctly to begin with, but probably even fewer because of degradation of samples, willingness of victims to testify, treatment of witnesses during trial, witnesses who don't remember what they witnessed, and a host of other reasons. In short, I don't imagine any scenario where thousands of men are suddenly going to get railroaded by fake rape accusations because the state finally decides to do its job.


Statutes of limitations exist to protect the accused, the state can't throw out the rules because it farked up.
 
2014-08-25 05:02:31 AM  

lawboy87: Many labs are doing DNA testing for identity at prices around $300 per test these days and there's one company that has a "DIY" testing unit which the police can use themselves with an out-of-pocket cost of about $25-$35 per test.


I'm vaguely bothered by a DIY test that the police would use themselves.  It seems like a huge opportunity for doctoring evidence, or at the very least bring up reasonable doubt that the evidence was doctored.

gadian: Well, if it was the state's fault the case wasn't brought in a timely matter, the state should bend to accommodate the fact that they farked up and process and prosecute the cases as if they were brand new.


I'm sure if the prosecutors had their way, there wouldn't be statutes of limitations on anything.  This isn't about justice for the victim, or making up for the state's dumbassery... it's about protecting the legal rights of the defendant.
 
2014-08-25 05:09:18 AM  
Rather than extending the statute of limitations, how about they TEST THE DAMN RAPE KITS??? They could probably find a lab more than willing to do it for a reasonable amount of money. It's not that expensive anymore, as has been pointed out.

Seriously, this is not a "statute of limitations" problem. They can make it forever, if they never get tested and the cases are considered cold and go uninvestigated, then it will never matter because they will never prosecute the assholes, who are probably out there raping more people right now. I seem to remember some place actually decided to go through their rape kits and test them, and they nailed several serial rapists in the process...

Oh, it was Detroit. Texas, you are doing worse than Detroit:

http://www.wxyz.com/news/100-serial-rapists-identified-after-rape-ki ts -from-detroit-crime-lab-are-finally-processed
 
2014-08-25 05:12:32 AM  

Empty Are: gadian:

Statutes of limitations exist to protect the accused, the state can't throw out the rules because it farked up.


If the accused has found their DNA inside of a person who is claiming rape, there should be no statute of limitation to allow that person respite.  Unfortunately, such a concept exists. If these cases had been processed timely, these accused would've found themselves at trial anyway. Well, something between 37 and 44% of them would have gone to trial anyway, but the point is, you're not suddenly rounding up people who would've never seen a deputy on their door step asking questions to begin with in some sort of witch hunt.

The only thing the statute of limitations does in this instance is protect the guilty, not the innocent.  An innocent person who has been accused never gets a chance to face their accuser either.  The state should always give priority to finding justice.  If this means that because the state has farked up, that in this case these 16,000 or so cases at absolute max have the statute of limitations undone then so be it.
 
2014-08-25 05:26:31 AM  

gadian: The state should always give priority to finding justice.


The law exists to PREVENT justice.

If someone rapes you, you hunt them down and rape them right back. That's justice. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. We've tried that route and it never works out well.

That said, I'm surprised there is in fact a statute of limitations rape. Especially in Texas. Did they put it in after the Supreme court said they couldn't hang rapists anymore?
 
2014-08-25 05:34:09 AM  

gadian: The only thing the statute of limitations does in this instance is protect the guilty, not the innocent.


In a legal sense, the "guilty" aren't guilty until they're convicted for the crimes.  Otherwise, why bother with trials?  If some guy's DNA is found in a rape kit, do we just imprison him off the bat?  Why even give him a chance to mount a defense?

"Innocent until proven guilty, with some exceptions."
 
2014-08-25 05:36:29 AM  

SilentStrider: RodneyToady: I don't like this idea.  Statutes of limitations exist to protect defendants, who are assumed innocent until proven guilty.  Trying to defend against a rape charge 15, 20, 25 years after the fact would be insane.

Throw money at the rape kits until the backlog is processed, and keep it flowing so a backlog never happens again, but don't violate a key element of our justice system because the state/city can't get its shiat together.

Murder doesn't have a Statute of Limitations. Given how heinous a crime rape is, why should it be different?


Because people consent to sex all the time, whereas no one consents to being killed (euthanasia-legal place excepted).

Rape is usually a stat-of-mind crime; that is, the only difference between a great night and a horrible crime is whether ot not the participants believed they had each others permission. There is usually no physical evidence to suggest rape, only that some sexual activity took place. This is why rapes are so difficult to prosecute.
 
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