During the 2008 presidential campaign, vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin deservingly took heat for having allegedly made Wasilla rape victims pay for their own “rape kits” — the package of tools required to perform a forensic examination on a rape victim to confirm an attack and collect DNA evidence.
Turns out, it wasn’t just a weird Alaskan thing. The great State of Texas, which has recently made it clear that it reserves the right to secede from the union, makes a point of charging rape victims who cooperate with police for the forensic investigation tools, too. And since everything’s bigger in Texas, the price tag is usually around $1,800.
Jezebel reports that victims who won’t or can’t pay up face ruined credit and debt collectors.
Is there another situation in which the victim of a crime — even an alleged crime — is made to pay for the instruments needed to investigate the allegation and construct a prosecutorial case? I spent some time covering police agencies and criminal courts, and I’m at a loss to think of an example.
The only conceivable reason this could be happening is this: to 1) make marginal budgetary cuts by taking advantage of the humiliation and shame already suffered by rape victims and 2) to discourage rape victims from reporting rapes in the first place.