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Congress Poised To Dedicate $41 Million To Help End Backlog Of Rape Kits

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Congress appears to be on the verge of allocating $41 million to help municipalities process a backlog of rape kits.

There are hundreds of thousands of rape kits that have never been tested, WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported.

"It's a huge deal," said Sarah Tofte, vice president of policy and advocacy for the Joyful Heart Foundation, which is pushing for ending the rape kit backlog.

Congress Poised To Dedicate $41 Million To Help End Backlog Of Rape Kits

The funding is included the $1.1 trillion government-wide spending bill. Lawmakers face a midnight Thursday deadline to pass legislation to prevent a government shutdown.

Tofte said the funding will not only help catch violent criminals, it sends a message to victims.

"They matter, and what happened to them matters," she said. "Their cases matter."

Each kit costs $500 to $1,000 to process.

To get a sense of what the money will do, look at Detroit, Tofte said.

"In just testing the first 2,000 kits, they identified over 200 serial rapists," she said.

Last month, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance pledged up to $35 million to help end the backlog of sexual assault kits.

The money comes from the DA's share of an $8.8 billion settlement with French bank BNP Paribas over allegations of violating U.S. economic sanctions by processing transactions for clients in blacklisted countries.

"Rape victims nationwide deserve to know that the invasive examination they underwent had a purpose, and the resulting kit was not left to gather dust on a forgotten shelf," Vance said then.

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