By Nicholas Kristof, on his blog, On the Ground:
"My Thursday [New York Times] column is about the extraordinary failure of police around the country to test rape kits promptly. Many kits are never tested, and others wait for a year before they are tested. There are a range of reasons, including the cost, but I think the underlying one is a deeply embedded skepticism among many veteran police officers about many rape cases, a sense that often it isn’t a truly serious crime.
"From the point of view of a rape victim, she undergoes the evidence collection procedure and then waits and waits and waits. She never hears any result, so she assumes that there was no DNA found, or no match. But in fact, what often happens is that the kit was never tested.
Police forces are to some degree at fault, but the problem is broader: It’s also politicians who allocate money to DNA testing centers, which are invariably starved of funds in ways that lead to long delays. The aim of this column is to offer a nudge so that prompt testing of rape kits becomes a priority.
"You may remember that last year one of the issues in the presidential campaign was the way Wasila, Alaska, charged rape victims to have their kits tested when Sarah Palin was mayor there. In fact, that’s not unusual. A number of states and localities have provisions requiring victims to pay for rape kit testing, although typically it is their medical insurance that pays. In some states, the women can be reimbursed.
"Please comment beside the column. I’d particularly welcome comments by rape victims, police or anyone with an experience in this area."