Rape kit testing bill passes unanimously

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On March 2nd, the Florida Legislature passed a major piece of legislation that will enhance public safety and support law enforcement efforts to reduce sexual violence, Joyce Mahr, Director of the Betty Griffin House reported to Historic City News.

Senate Bill 636 passed its final test when the House unanimously voted to require timely testing of sexual offense evidence kits. The bill also requires responders to inform victims of their right to request the kit be tested, as well as the purpose of testing.

“Not only does this legislation ensure that rape kits will no longer languish for years in storage, leaving evidence unprocessed and unavailable for use by law enforcement, it amplifies victims’ voices and expands their rights,” said Jennifer Dritt, Executive Director of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence. “Currently, victims who obtain a sexual assault forensic exam have no control over what happens to their kits, and often have no idea what happens to the evidence after collection.”

The issue of sexual assault kits has been a hot topic in Florida. In January, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement released the results of a statewide audit of Florida’s untested kits, finding an inventory of over 13,000 untested kits held by Florida’s law enforcement agencies.

The bill now heads to Governor Scott’s office. If signed into law, the legislation will take effect on July 1.

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