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May 27, 2017

Is Chris Christie “Pulling a Palin?” New Jersey Rape Survivors Billed for Forensic Kits

A rape kit is a forensic evidence kit, and is used to collect any physical evidence that may have been left behind by the rapist. It involves having the victim report to a medical facility as soon after the crime as possible, where samples are taken of hair, blood, fingernail scrapings, vaginal swabs and other invasive tests. It can be highly traumatic for the victim to have this type of evidence collected just after they have been sexually assaulted, but it is key to the identification, and prosecution of the perpetrator.

Back in the late ’90s, in one community in Alaska, the victims of rape were actually being charged hundreds of dollars to pay for their own rape kits – the gathering of evidence for a crime of which they were the victim.

Former Alaska State Representative Eric Croft (D) was a strong advocate for the abolition of this practice. In a 2008 interview, he explained,

Late 1999, we kept hearing rumors that some communities were charging rape victims for the cost of the rape exam. I put in a bill in the legislature (HB270) to try and outlaw that practice. I expected when I introduced the bill in January of 2000, that we’d sort of shame them out of it. But Wasilla… and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin was then Mayor of Wasilla, outed itself as the entity that was doing it… Fannon (the Wasilla Police Chief hired under Palin) was very clear that they thought that was a good thing. Better than the tax payers paying for it, in his opinion.

Chief Fannon also added, “The forensic exam is just one part of the equation. I’d like to see the courts make these people pay restitution for these things.”  Well, if there’s one thing you can say about “these people” is that they sure as heck are fiscally irresponsible, and that’s really the main point. And with Alaska being number one in the nation per capita for instances of rape and sexual assault, there sure are a lot of “those people” out there.

Mind you, nobody in Wasilla was charging the victims of drunk driving accidents for the breathalyzer or blood tests of the drunk driver. Nobody was charging robbery victims to measure footprints outside the window of their homes. But if you were a rape victim, well then it was time for the government to send you a message. No free ride.

It is worthy of note that the policy of billing the victims for their own rape kits was not in effect during the administration of John Stein, Palin’s predecessor as Mayor of Wasilla.

Happily, in the year 2000, Alaska Governor Tony Knowles (D) signed legislation that abolished that policy. Wasilla Chief of Police Fannon argued the point all the way up to the bill signing.

But as much as the rest of the country may be tempted to sneer at those backward-thinking Alaskans and their crazy right wing misogynistic conservative ways, the problem and injustice of billing women for their rape kits is not confined to the sleepy little hamlet of Wasilla, Alaska. Not by a long shot.

As long as the crime scene isn’t your own body, the cost of evidence gathering is free, but be the victim of violent sexual assault, and you can still receive a bill in New Jersey.

“In no other crime would it even be contemplated that victims receive an invoice for the collection of evidence needed to prosecute the offenders,” stated [New Jersey State] Sen. Diane Allen, who decided to put a stop to this “inhumane practice” by sponsoring legislation that would protect survivors from being harassed for payment. Allen continued: “Victims who receive a bill are needlessly forced to relive their attack all over again by the very people to whom they turned for help.”

Happily, the legislation sailed through both houses of the NJ legislature, but they too have hit a stumbling block, and it isn’t some podunk police chief and his ideologue Mayor in a little backwater town.  It is Governor Chris Christie who has failed to sign the legislation that has been sitting on his desk for ten weeks.

In 2010, almost a thousand reported rapes happened in the state of New Jersey. That means while Mr. Christie sits in his chair stroking his chin and trying to decide whether victims should be charged and pursued by bill collectors if they can’t pay up, 190 women (give or take a few) will be getting an invoice for their own victimization.

On his website, it says that “Governor Christie welcomes the opportunity to consider your thoughts…” You can give yours to him by clicking HERE.

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42 Responses to “Is Chris Christie “Pulling a Palin?” New Jersey Rape Survivors Billed for Forensic Kits”
  1. Kath the Scrappy says:

    Looks like Christie ‘got the message':

    Christie signs bill barring fees for rape victims
    http://my.news.yahoo.com/christie-signs-bill-barring-fees-rape-victims-163034488.html

    TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Health care providers in New Jersey can no longer bill sexual assault victims for forensic evidence collection.

    Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill into law Thursday that prevents victims from being bill directly for medical screenings, medications for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy tests after an incident. [snipped]

  2. Mayfly says:

    If a woman in New Jersey is raped and murdered (Heaven, forbid) will her estate be charged for the rape kit? Just asking.

  3. Juneaudream says:

    Followup. I had the great lunch visit..and ‘said student’..is leaving for her next college experience in Montana..within days. The search after lunch to find..pepper spray..took 3 stores. The first..dept. type..no luck. The second a sporting goods store which said “yes” to having the spray and the fellow asked .”on what”..it would be used..and I answered “People”!.. He halted in a ..nano-sec and said whoo..ok..not this spray..We have bear spray and it would be lethal on humans..you need so and sos store. Off we went and ..zingo..bought two versions..complete with dye in each one..to mark a person attacking. End of a lovely day..and she..cute as a button..is now learning to carry..said item. I do hope I am not the only person in america..who bought these for a cherished family friend!

  4. Big Judy Rose says:

    Sent my thoughts to Big Fat jesus yesterday through the link provided. Everyone needs to do it. Thanks for bringing this to our attention

  5. Juneaudream says:

    Having addit. thoughts about this subject this morning. If I understand the faith based statements..’raped so you Will have baby..because it was..a ‘god/gods/goddesses’ will..then any person who now choses to attempt a rape..will be able to..not only..entertain the thought..but now go attempt..willy-nilly..to see if the ..’god/gods/goddesses’..are aligned with his wishes..for that day? Now..switching to the assorted females..who have not been raped..and..may fall into the portion of the communitys that..prohibit the morning after pill, surgical removal etc…I do not think they..are..’Penalized’..for things like sleeping with pepper spray under their pillow..a discreet pistol, and a few simple tricks like bells on lines to their windows or braced items..and balenced pails..over their doors..right? That said..I am being treated to a Thai lunch by a recent eastern college grad. and her mother..from just such a church orientation. I will not bring this exact subject up..however..I will go out this morning, find a good pepper spray (calling our local police station to find out what is a good type), buy it and present to the grad..and make allusions to better safe than sorry..in todays world. So..I figure it will run me around 20 bucks or under..will find out. My suggestion..(yeah I always have suggestions)..everyone go buy a pepper spray or..’defensive item’..for a gal you wish to have able to..defend her premises!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

    • benlomond2 says:

      Having addit. thoughts about this subject this morning. If I understand the faith based statements..’raped so you Will have baby..because it was..a ‘god/gods/goddesses’ will..

      Does this mean that Jesus might have been a “rape baby” ??

  6. tinydancer says:

    I live in New Jersey and this doen’t shock me one bit.

  7. Any truth to the rumor that Nyawkers commit suicide from being depressed that the light at the end of their tunnel is New Jersey?

  8. Phyllis says:

    The bill passed and went to the Governor on 6/23/2011. According to the New Jersey Constitution he has 45 days to sign or veto the bill.
    They don’t count Sat. or Sundays in that 45 days so Aug 25 will be 45 days.

    It won’t do him any good to veto the bill because it passed the Senate and Assembly by more than a 2/3 vote so they could override his veto without any trouble.

  9. Zyxomma says:

    As someone who survived both NJ (I was born in Brooklyn, but spent many years on the dark continent of New Jersey) AND rape, this cold, calculating, callous refusal to sign a bill that keeps women from being traumatized all over incensed me.

    Thanks for providing the link; I gave fatboy a piece of my mind (although I was far more polite than I’m being here). Bill Maher has CC’s number. When Jabba-the-Hutt a/k/a Chris Christie was hospitalized recently for breathing trouble, Maher said “he was trying to inhale a pizza.”

    Whatever happened to the rational Republicans of my youth? After all, no one LIKES Chris Christie. He only got elected because Jon Corzine’s popularity sank with the economy (and his history at Goldmine Sachs didn’t help any).

    • leenie17 says:

      Kinda the same way that SP got elected in AK because so many people voted for ‘anyone but Frank Murkowski’?

  10. Thanks, AKM, for the heads up and the link to the petition. I’m not really surprised that this is Christie’s position – I have thought for quite a while that he is never someone who could get my vote.

  11. Chenagrrl says:

    I wrote to him, and intend to contact my Jersey pals to do the same. Thanx

  12. Cassie Jeep says:

    It’s a Republican thing.

  13. Kim says:

    I really wish at least ONE interviewer with balls would ask Bristol how she would have felt after being “basically raped” by Levi in the tent, being presented with a bill for the kit to prove her attack. Press her a little harder and ask if she thinks its the MORAL thing to require a rape victim to pay for her own kit. Then point out that her own mother supported that practice as mayor.

    I know it’ll never happen, but a gal can dream can’t she????

  14. Judi says:

    Went to his web site posted in this article and sent him an emil…… Sign the bill!! this is outrageous…Leenie17 spot on…women under attack by the GOP right wingers…

    also under attack by same…infants, children, disabled, seniors, unemployed, working people, unions….well come to think of it EVERYONE except the super duper most wealthy…..

    ENOUGH!

  15. The guv is perceived as being slightly moderate from all I have heard. He probably wants to improve his street cred with the rilly far right loonies in case he is chosen for higher office. Moderate Rethugs can’t be elected dog catcher in the new Holy Land. I sent a note and was uncharacteristically civil-sort of. Thanks AKM for the heads up.

    • Guv Christies wife is a vice president of a small NY firm named Cantor-Fitxgerald that deals mostly in gov’t securities.

      • LibertyLover says:

        Cantor Fitzgerald? Isn’t that one of the financial firms that lost a ton of people on 9/11 in the World Trade Center?

        • leenie17 says:

          Yes. They lost over 650 employees…more than any other company or organization.

          Their corporate headquarters were in the WTC.

        • GypsyGirl says:

          Yes. Unfortunately for them, the had a breakfast meeting that faithful morning.
          Otherwise a good portion of those employees wouldn’t have even been in their main office but on the various trading floors at other locations in the downtown area.

          And VPs within a large company are a dime-a-dozen. No big whoop.

      • Cleo17 says:

        please..someone help me understand HOW A WOMAN VOTES GOP when they are raping all of our rights away from us. NEXT? Will be voting.

  16. leenie17 says:

    Well, sounds like our feisty little Jersey Governor fits right in with the despicable misogyny of the Republican/Tea party:

    * Rick Santorum wants women who are raped to be forced to give birth to their rapist’s child so that they’re not “traumatized twice”. Because, everyone knows that 9 months of pregnancy and giving birth to your rapist’s child are FAR less ‘traumatic’ than taking a couple of pills after being raped.

    * Michelle Bachmann co-sponsored a bill that would redefine rape and only permit federal abortion funding for women who were ‘forcibly raped’.

    * Georgia State Rep. Bobby Franklin wanted to change the state criminal codes to use the term ‘accuser’ instead of ‘victim’ for certain crimes. The crimes included sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking which (TOTALLY coincidentally, of course!) affect primarily women. Well, of course, we all know that most of them wimmen MUST have been asking for it, right Representative Franklin???

    * States passed 162 new laws related to reproductive health in the first 6 months of this year. Eighty of the new state laws that were passed restrict abortion, by far the highest number ever.

    * “In the first three months of 2011, legislators in 49 states introduced 916 measures related to reproductive issues, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a New York nonprofit research organization that supports abortion rights but is viewed by both sides of the debate as providing reliable statistics on the issue. More than half of the measures — 56% — seek to restrict abortion access.”
    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/may/08/nation/la-na-abortion-legislation-20110508

    Yup, that’s our wonderful collection of ‘compassionate’ conservatives at work!

    • beaglemom says:

      And these are the same idiots who are now complaining about jobs. The Republicans in the House spent months earlier this year debating how to redefine rape and how to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, etc. when they should have been cooperating with the White House and the Democrats on a genuine job stimulus package.

  17. John says:

    Investigating crimes can be expensive. If every crime victim had to pay that cost, few could afford it. If you are going to charge some victims, however, why start with the victims of one of the most horrifying crimes possible? Make the burgerly victim pay for dusting for fingerprints if they must, but leave the rape victims alone.

  18. Laurainnocal says:

    This is downright incredulous and disgusting. Thank you for the disturbing information though.

  19. beaglemom says:

    I am so sick of men making these decisions (oops, Sarah was mayor of Wasilla when rape victims still had to pay for the forensic kits, wasn’t she?). Gov. Christie is trying to play catch up with the Republican loonies who have already announced their intentions of running for president. Why not have another nut case running for the Republican nomination? In their next debate they can all try to out crazy each other again, just like their love fest for corporations after Mitt Romney’s stupid remark in Iowa.

  20. Juneaudream says:

    So..let me understand this. It is his wish that..after ..non-consensual sex/IE rape..it is..His Wish..that the female involved..be held to provide a very probable birth..9 months later? Does that man have a wife? Does he have daughters? Does he have a living mother..Aunties..nieces? I’m thinking the ‘man’..deserves a swift hospitalization and a sex-change..ASAP!

    • If only that were possible. I’ve always thought that if men could experience some of the things that women do, our laws would be more just and their responses would be more compassionate.

      • I had a yeast infection once. Once was way too many times. Count your blessings that us men don’t go through a lot of what you women do,otherwise we would be really whiny and hard to live around.

        • Shari says:

          Wait a minute….are you saying women are whiny and hard to live around? Just yanking your chain, I know that’s not what you meant – right?

      • silverball says:

        …it’s clear we need MORE women elected to public offices to help these “guys” understand….if men could get pregnant, we would have goofy discussions on abortion and contraceptives, nor would we be contemplating women being forced to pay for rape kits….lot of stoopid out their and most of them are males……..

    • Cleo17 says:

      I’m sure he’d change his tune if it happened to HIS WIFE DAUGHTER or MOTHER! These people see one sided only. They don’t think this can happen to them. BECAUSE THEY ARE ABOVE ALL OF US. You, on the other hand, do not deserve any respect should a man rape you violently against your will according to this PIG!

    • Pinwheel says:

      Is the man contributing financially to support the product of his rape? Is the State of XXXXX assuring the support of the child?

      Inquiring minds want to know.

  21. justafarmer says:

    He’s sitting on the bill because it includes language that provides for the emergency morning after pill.
    Idiot.

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