Proposal is the latest step in a series of needed reforms
ANCHORAGE – Thursday, on the final day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) announced new legislation that would require rape kits to be tested within six months. Current law requires testing of rape kits within one year.
“The headlines this summer and fall have been devastating, telling the stories of too many women being sexually assaulted, not listened to by law enforcement, of repeat offenders, of lives changed forever not just by a violent assault but also by a justice system that failed them,” Representative Tarr said. “Delay means a dangerous individual is out in our community hurting people. That must stop.”
This bill is the next step in Rape Kit Reform, a broad effort to enact trauma informed, victim-centered policies and to bring justice to survivors.
In recent years, several Rape Kit Reform efforts been enacted, including:
- passing legislation to require an annual audit of untested rape kits;
- a victim centered approach to reporting sexual assaults including a law enforcement and anonymous report;
- training for all law enforcement officials on sexual assault response;
- funding for testing the backlog of 3,400 rape kits statewide and for storage shelving for the crime lab;
- implementation of a chain of custody process in the state crime lab and adding an independent identifier for each rape kit;
- legislation this year adding additional requirements to the audit report to require all kits be sent to the crime lab within thirty days, tested within one year, and that individuals be notified within two weeks that their rape kit has been tested.
“For far too long, Alaska has been at the top of the list for rates of domestic violence and sexual assault,” Representative Tarr added. “What’s worse is that these issues have been ignored by law enforcement and by the legislature. We must change course. This bill should have unanimous support in the legislature. I hope all of my colleagues will support this effort, which is necessary to make our communities safe for women, by joining as a co-sponsor and helping me make this the first bill we pass next session.”