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End the Backlog Benefit Show at the V Club Night Club
March 28, 2018

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The V Club Night Club in Huntington has announced the date for their End the Backlog Benefit show. On April 26, the V Club will host the Po' Folks Cabaret which features sideshow antics, a burlesque show and belly dancing. A live recording of the true crime podcast Indifferently Depraved Book Club will take place at 7 p.m. and a stacked roster of musicians including Pepper Fandango, Quilt Monsters, Emmalea Deal and The Travelling Killers will close out the evening. Raffles will be held all night long with prizes ranging from art to local services. Doors open at 6 p.m., admission is $7, and you must be 21+ to enter.

The End the Backlog (EtB) Initiative is run by the Joyful Heart Foundation and focuses on identifying untested rape kits. Graffiti spoke with Penny Maple, of One Red Cent Productions, for more information. "EtB is a national program that does research to identify where and why backlogs exist, then they advocate for legislative reform by engaging communities and government agencies at the state, local, and federal levels to clear backlogs and prevent future backlogs from forming."

Currently there are backlogs of untested rape kits across the US dating back decades and numbering well into the thousands, most long past the expiration of the statute of limitations, effectively allowing offenders to repeat their actions and escalate dangerous criminal behavior.

Maple told me that West Virginia also has a problem with untested rape kits, "One inventory has been conducted, identifying over 2,400 untested rape kits - the exact number is unknown." Maple explains, "no tracking system exists for victims to monitor the testing of their samples. Legislation for reform is pending and the state has not officially pledged to clear the backlog."

But there is good news, "West Virginia has been awarded several sources of funding in the past four years to test backlogged rape kits, investigate and prosecute cases, and re-engage survivors." Manhattan Attorneys Office and the US Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance are two of the funding sources helping to clear the backlog. "Already, cold cases are being solved and offenders are being brought to trial," Maple says, adding, "We know that sexual assault and rape are often serial crimes, so it is imperative that rape kits be processed swiftly."

"Bringing awareness of the backlog and related legislation to people is so important," says Maple, explaining the purpose of this benefit show. "We hope that our event raises a significant donation and that everyone goes home informed and ready to write their representative to urge them to pass Senate Bill 39 (which grants survivors the right to notice regarding rape kit testing and results) and similar legislation, so that West Virginia can one day be completely clear of a backlog!"

Awareness of this subject is on the rise, with West Virginia currently in a statewide reform proposed stage with current rape kit backlogs being cleared thanks to the efforts of organizations like the Huntington Police Department, the forensics center at Marshall University, the West Virginia State Police Forensics Lab, and others.

For more information or to make a donation you can visit www.joyfulheartfoundation.org or www.endthebacklog.org. You can also contact Penny Maple for more information via e-mail at pennymaple@hotmail.com.

Richard Allen is a freelance writer for various publications. He can be contacted at richardallenwrites@gmail.com.

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