Rape kit tracking program a good use of state money

We haven’t hesitated to use this space in the past to criticize Gov. Rick Snyder when the state’s chief executive’s job performance warranted it. It only seems right, then, to provide a pat on the back when we believe Snyder has gone or is going in a direction that appears to be positive.

That’s the case with his sign-off this week on an additional $4 million in the fiscal year 2018 state budget that will see the establishment of a rape kit tracking program allowing victims to keep up with the progress their case is making. According to reports, it’s all going to be packaged in a five-year effort.

The Detroit News reported the program was funded in a supplemental appropriations bill Snyder signed that provides a total of $50 million for this and other initiatives including $600,000 for Attorney General Bill Schuette for his Flint water crisis criminal probe; more than $16 million in federal funding to fight the opioid epidemic; and $700,000 in state money to test Medicaid recipients for a history of opioid addiction.

In part, Snyder said, “Supporting a statewide sexual assault evidence kit tracking system is long overdue and will help survivors of these horrific crimes.” The House approved the supplemental appropriations bill 105-2 at the end of October and the Senate passed it 37-0 earlier that month.

State Rep. Laura Cox, R-Livonia, who is chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, said in October that the rape kit funding is critical.

“These evidence kits were sitting in an office in the (Detroit) police department and actually the problem has been throughout the state of Michigan,” she noted. “I think it’s really important. We owe it to these victims that have had this very invasive test kit taken off of them.”

We believe the implementation of this program will go a long way in maximizing efforts to solve the horrific crime of rape. By all accounts, this is a wise expenditure of state resources.