Cohen Proposes Amendment to Clear Rape Kit Backlog

Jun. 13, 2012Office of Council Member Ellen Cohen

Today, Council Member Ellen Cohen proposed a budget amendment that seeks to address the city of Houston’s rape kit backlog. These kits, which have not been tested due to lack of resources, contain vital pieces of evidence that can be used to apprehend violent criminals.

The amendment will generate funding by imposing a $5 fee on operators of adult entertainment establishments based on their number of daily customers. It is anticipated that this will raise approximately $3 million per year.

“We have a problem, and this amendment is the solution,” said Cohen. “The survivors of sexual assault crimes deserve justice, and this proposal provides a practical avenue towards accomplishing that goal.” Cohen continued, “Last week, City Council took the first steps towards creating a truly independent crime lab, and this amendment will further that work and ensure that Houston is seen as the model of forensic science.

Council Member Cohen served for 18 years as the CEO of the Houston Area Women’s Center, which provides services for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. She was also appointed by President Bill Clinton to the National Violence Against Women Advisory Council, and served two terms in the Texas State Legislature prior to her current role as the Houston City Council Member for District C.