Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes
SANTA FE ― Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Bernalillo pre-filed two appropriations requests to help bring rapists to justice and provide services to victims of sexual assault.
Maestas Barnes has requested a $1.2 million appropriation, HB 130, to allow the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to hire additional full-time staff to work on the back-log of untested rape kits in New Mexico.
According to DPS, there are more than 5,000 rape-kits in New Mexico that have not been processed. Some of these unprocessed kits date back to the 1980s.
The funding requested by Maestas Barnes would help DPS process these kits and potentially identify suspects in these cases.
“There is absolutely no point in collecting evidence with these kits if they sit untested potentially for months, years or decades,” Maestas Barnes said. “This backlog is unacceptable and must be eliminated to provide a measure of justice to the victims of sexual assault.”
Also, Maestas Barnes has requested $1 million, HB 131, for the Department of Health to contract with rape crisis centers across the state to provide trauma-informed counseling services to victims of sexual assault.
The funding would be used by the centers to meet the increased need for victim services.
“Survivors of sexual assault have an increased risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and substance abuse,” Maestas Barnes said. “My goal with this appropriation is to ensure that victims of sexual assault have all the necessary resources to help them with the difficult process of healing and recovery.”