Legislation Introduced Monday to Prevent Future Backlog of Untested Sexual Assault Kits

New bipartisan legislation aimed at preventing a future backlog
of untested sexual assault kits in the state was introduced Monday. Under the new
bill, when a health care professional collects sexual assault evidence, a
victim will have the choice to report to law enforcement or not. If the victim
chooses not to report, the kit will be sent to the state crime lab for storage
within 72 hours.  The kit will be stored
there for up to 10 years, or until the victim decides to report the assault. If
a victim chooses to report an assault, the health professional will notify law
enforcement within 24 hours after collecting the sexual assault kit. Law
enforcement would then have 72 hours to collect the kit, and 14 days to send it
to the state crime lab for analysis.  

Under current law, there is no clear statutory procedure
for the collection and processing of the kits, which has resulted in thousands
of kits not being submitted to the state crime lab for testing until recent
state and national efforts. The legislation has been announced as Assembly Bill
214 and Senate Bill 200, and was authored by Senator Rob Cowles, Senator Patty Schachtner,
Representative Melissa Sargent and Representative David Steffen. 49 other
legislators have voiced their support for the bill.