In 2000, Alaska lawmakers learned that rural police agencies had been billing rape victims or their insurance companies $500 to $1,200 for the costs of the forensic medical examinations used to gather evidence. They quickly passed a law prohibiting the practice.
According to the sponsor, Democrat Eric Croft, the law was aimed in part at Wasilla, where now-Gov. Sarah Palin was mayor. When it was signed, Wasilla’s police chief expressed displeasure.
“In the past, we’ve charged the cost of exams to the victims’ insurance company when possible,” then-chief Charlie Fannon told the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, the local newspaper. “I just don’t want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer.”
I don’t know when the practice started or if it is fair to pin this on Palin, but the craziest thing about the whole affair is not that they actually did it, but that they thought of charging the victims in the first place. I honestly can not think of one other crime in which upon reporting it, the victim is assessed with a fee. Now granted, this does not include false reports or things of a fraudulent nature, but real crimes.
Can you think of any? I can’t imagine someone getting hit by a drunk driver being forced to pay for their breathalyzer. No one would even suggest something like that. I can not imagine someone being viciously beaten being charged for the photographs the Police Department would take as evidence. Why on earth would anyone think it makes sense to charge rape victims for the rape kits?
As far as I am concerned, while going through with actually charging them is pretty perverse (even more so when justified as a savings for taxpayers), it is the thinking that even led to someone suggesting that the victim pay for the kit that is the problem. That is downright crazy. My dad was the mayor (and by nature of the position, chief of police) of our small town for 20+ years, and he would have shit an absolute brick if someone had suggested something like that. Can you think of a situation in which the victim is charged for services?