FRANKFORT – Legislation, sponsored by Senator Denise Harper Angel, to establish policies and procedures for the swift and proper handling of sexual assault evidence kits was approved today on the floor of the Kentucky House of Representatives and is headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
“I am so pleased that we were able to get this very important piece of legislation through the legislative process,” said Harper Angel, D-Louisville. “This bill is about victims and survivors who have been waiting for justice, and we just told them they will wait no more.”
Under Senate Bill 63, known as the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) Act 2016:
· Each law enforcement agency will need to develop a written policy and procedure manual related to sexual assault kits;
· All sexual assault kits shall be taken into custody from the collecting facility within five days;
· All sexual assault kits shall be submitted to the Kentucky State Police (KSP) Crime Lab within 30 days;
· All sexual assault kits submitted to a law enforcement agency shall be tested;
· Law enforcement agencies shall be prohibited from destroying any sexual assault kits, and
· All victims shall be notified of the progress and results of the testing.
The measure also requires the average completion date for assault kit testing not to exceed 90 days by July 1, 2018 and not to exceed 60 days by July 1, 2020.
Currently, it takes about eight months for a sexual assault kit to be tested once it is submitted to the lab. Harper Angel said that the time it takes to test these kits is too long.
SB 63 is in response to a legislative-ordered audit that found there are 3,090 untested sexual assault examination kits in Kentucky.
“During the long but very important process of developing this bill, the working group put together legislation that ensures swift justice for victims of sexual assault, takes criminals off our streets, and protects future generations,” said Harper Angel, who sponsored Senate Joint Resolution 20 during the 2015 Legislative Session that called for the audit. “This bill is step two to ensure that victims receive swift justice.”
Harper Angel represents the 35th senatorial district, which includes a portion of Jefferson County.