FRANKFORT – Senator Denise Harper Angel, D-Louisville, yesterday filed legislation, Senate Bill 63, to establish policies and procedures for the swift and proper handling of sexual assault evidence kits.
The bill is in response to former state Auditor Adam Edelen’s report that found there are 3,090 untested kits scattered across Kentucky. Senate Joint Resolution 20, sponsored by Harper Angel, during the 2015 Legislative Session required Auditor Edelen to conduct an audit to determine the number of untested kits.
Harper Angel’s current legislation requires involved agencies to establish written policies and procedures related to sexual assault examinations in order to continue to receive Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program (KLEFP) funds. It also sets timeframes for the processing of kits. The bill is modeled after the current KLEFP fund requirement for written policy and procedures related to racial profiling and domestic violence.
Within this manual, law enforcement must retrieve evidence from a collecting facility within five days of notice, and the evidence must be submitted by law enforcement to a Kentucky State Police (KSP) forensic lab within 30 days of receipt. Victims must be notified of the testing progress and DNA results. The identity of the DNA match is not provided to the victim.
Under the bill, any evidence collected as a result of the sexual assault examination cannot be destroyed. However, failure to adhere to these deadlines will not result in a dismissal of criminal action or deny the admissibility of evidence.
This bill declares an emergency, and $5 million from the KLEFP fund to be used in fiscal year 2016-2017 for the purchase of lab equipment for the processing of sexual assault kits.
“Since the KLEFP fund is intended to be used for enhancing public safety, this would be an appropriate use of funds,” Harper Angel said.
“Last session, my legislation got the process started, but we’re not finished. We’ve done the study and it’s time to move forward. Rape victims deserve to have their kits tested. These tests will help lead to the conviction of rapists,” the senator added. “These victims need their voices heard and justice needs to be served.”
The bill will be considered during the 2016 legislative session.