In 2017, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency reported that, on average, every year in Alabama more than 1,900 rapes are reported to law enforcement. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, for every 1,000 sexual assaults, only 290 get reported to law enforcement. This means that those 1,900 rapes every year in Alabama could actually be closer to 6,500.
RAINN, founded in 1994, is America’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE (4673) and online.rainn.org) and the Department of Defense Safe Helpline, a service for members of the U.S. military affected by sexual assault. RAINN also works with leaders like Congressman Robert Aderholt to improve public policy across the country.
In December, just before Congress recessed for the holidays, Congressman Aderholt fought to increase the rape kit backlog funding from $67.9 million to $102 million, securing the largest increase for the Debbie Smith Act in a decade. The Debbie Smith Act is named after a rape survivor who waited six years for her assailant to be identified and convicted through the use of DNA. Today, the Debbie Smith Act ensures that over one hundred thousand backlogged rape kits, including more than 3,500 in Jefferson County, can be tested. We expect this testing to lead to the identification of many rapists, and it will give police and prosecutors crucial evidence they need to convict these predators.
Few have worked harder than Rep. Aderholt, who has ably served North Alabama since 1997, to protect victims and give law enforcement the tools they need to investigate and prosecute sexually violent offenders.
Congressman Aderholt’s leadership to increase funding to eliminate the rape kit backlog is incredibly appreciated and his constituents in North Alabama should be proud to know he puts survivors in Alabama first when he’s here in Washington, D.C.
Scott Berkowitz is president and founder of RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.