On Thursday, the state House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill to govern the management and destruction of forensic medical exams for sexual assault, informally known as “rape kits.”
“We need to do more to protect the rights of survivors of sexual assault,” said House Bill 1228's sponsor, Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood. “That means improving the rape kit processing and tracking system and making sure that victims of heinous crimes have the resources they need to track the status of their investigation confidentially and efficiently.”
The bill would direct the state to create a tracking system for the evidence, such that survivors could access updates about their file. The medical professional collecting the evidence would need to notify the survivor about the nearest victim’s advocate, the rules regarding destruction of the evidence and the survivor’s right to be notified. If there has not been a conviction or guilty plea in an assault case, agencies must notify the victim before destroying the evidence, and must preserve it for an additional 10 years if they object.
END THE BACKLOG, a project of the nonprofit Joyful Heart Foundation, found there to be no backlog of untested rape kits in Colorado, one of few states with that distinction. A 2013 law provided $6.3 million to process all untested kits within 120 days and to mandate submission of kits for testing within 21 days going forward. The law did not require law enforcement agencies to track the kits, however.