I've long held that the semi-dessicated dustbowl of Texas is the overly large idiot child that, by rights, the other 49 members of the family ought to keep locked and chained up in the attic and periodically fed road kill. Just based on their shockingly disproportionate ratio of executions with the rest of the country and the sheer number of Republican yahoos that it produces like some hideously hyperactive clown car would Texas deserve to be treated like the outsized, bellowing idiot child that it is.
But this story that came out of the state house in Austin is almost too incredible to believe, one that further advances the case that there's nothing wrong with Texas that wouldn't be cured with a good vacuuming from triple Category 5 tornadoes.
To put it in a nutshell: Rape victims are being charged for their own rape kits. These kits, in Texas at least, cost, along with the lab work and followup treatments, almost $1900. It gets worse: The state's Victim Compensation Fund, which is supposed to step in and cover the costs when the hospitals and police departments won't pony up, is also balking.
The fund back in 2007 had received from fines and penalties almost $100,000,000. As of the end of that year, the VCF had a surplus in excess of almost $60,000,000. Yet the state Attorney General is already crying poverty, whining that if rape victims were handed free rape kits courtesy of the Lone Star State, the fund would be "insolvent."
Let's crunch some quick numbers: In order for Texas' VCF funds to become insolvent, there would have to be in excess of 31,000 women raped every year just in that state. How widespread of a problem is rape in Texas? Well, according to the Texas Law Enforcement Agency Uniform Crime annual report, the number stands at 8439 for 2007.
So that argument doesn't hold water at all.
February last year, Michelle Andrews wrote about this disturbing cost-cutting trend in her health blog and reminded us that it isn't just Texas doing this. She also quoted a local journalist at how "the vast majority of the 3,000 or so emergency room patients examined for sexual assaults each year shoulder some of the cost of a rape kit test." NC caps the cost of the $1600 kits at $1000 which means the rape victims still have to shoulder the difference. Except in NC, their own Victim Compensation Fund is underfunded. Texas, once again, can't cry poverty.
Alaska under Sarah Palin has been just as egregious. You would think a state run by a woman wouldn't nickle-and-dime their rape victims and trying to trim the budget by passing the buck and many of them onto brutalized women who have already been through enough. But after the rape itself, the invasive rape kit process and then the litigation process, if there's one, the last thing these poor women should need to worry about is having their credit reports sledgehammered because they couldn't pay for their own rape kits.
It goes without saying that all too many rapes go unreported and that even when presented with many excellent reasons to file charges and to testify on their own behalf, fear, embarrassment and humiliation prevents them from doing so. Making them pay for their own rape kits just gives them another reason to not come forward and help put these animals behind bars so they can't go on to rape more women.