(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) and Annie Kuster (NH-02) announced $650,261 in grants to support victims of sexual assault from the National Institute of Justice at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). These grants include $316,703 to the New Hampshire Department of Safety to help reduce sexual assault and rape kit backlogs and $333,558 to the New Hampshire Department of Justice to develop and initiate a tracking program for sexual assault kits.
“Survivors of sexual assault and rape face extraordinary challenges as they seek justice,” said Shaheen, who advocated for this funding as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “That’s why it’s critical that we have a justice system with the funding and resources necessary to handle cases in a timely, efficient and comprehensive manner. I am pleased to announce additional federal funding is on the way to New Hampshire to support these efforts which will be used to create more efficient processes and reduce the backlog of sexual assault and rape kits. These grants will help provide local law enforcement and prosecutors with the tools they need to ensure cases are appropriately investigated and prosecuted.”
“Survivors of sexual assault who have taken the brave step to undergo hours of invasive medical examinations to prove their perpetrator’s identity deserve to see their attacker brought to justice without delay,” said Hassan. “In New Hampshire, our state’s backlog of sexual assault kits creates an undue burden for those who have been through indescribable trauma and wish only to see justice served. I am pleased to announce these grants, which will help reduce the backlog of rape kits in New Hampshire, as well as create a program so that survivors have a way to track their sexual assault kit in the system and ensure their case is being properly investigated.”
“Law enforcement must have the tools and resources it needs to investigate sexual assault cases, and this funding will help our police departments and victims seek justice,” said Shea-Porter. “I am pleased to announce this federal funding, which will help address the backlog of untested sexual assault kits. With these grants, the New Hampshire DOJ will also hire a specialist to work with victims to ensure their cases are investigated, and it will create an online system to allow victims to easily see the status of their assault kit test. It’s so important that victims have confidence that their assault kits will be tested and their cases investigated, and this funding will help our state achieve this goal.”
“The backlog of unprocessed sexual assault kits is an affront to survivors and a threat to public safety,” said Kuster, co-founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence. “Survivors and communities across New Hampshire deserve to know evidence in kits is being tested to help hold perpetrators accountable and prevent future attacks. These funds will give forensic labs the tools they need to test kits in a more timely manner, and survivors the peace of mind that comes with knowing their assault is being investigated. I’m proud to join our delegation to announce these grants, and I will continue my efforts to combat sexual violence and secure justice for survivors.”
Senator Shaheen has led efforts in the Senate to establish rights and protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, introducing legislation that codifies basic rights for survivors of sexual assault that was signed into law in 2016. Shaheen previously introduced legislation, the Fair Housing for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Survivors Act of 2016, to establish housing protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and to set a nationwide standard that survivors cannot be evicted or otherwise denied access to housing for being victims of those crimes. Shaheen also introduced the Combat Sexual Harassment in Housing Act to make it easier for victims to bring forward certain cases of sexual harassment in rental housing under the Fair Housing Act.