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State of Rhode Island General Assembly
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General Assembly passes bill guaranteeing rights relating to use and maintenance of sexual assault kits
STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly has approved legislation introduced by Majority Floor Manager John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth) and Sen. Tiara Mack (D-Dist. 6, Providence) that would regulate the use of sexual assault evidence kits and enumerate the rights of victims in relation to those kits.
The bill (
) would require any entity that receives, maintains, stores or preserves sexual assault evidence kits to submit a report to the Department of Health annually, setting forth the total number of untested kits in possession of such entity.
“Rape is a horrendous, brutal crime, and victims have to live with it for the rest of their lives” said Representative Edwards. “The four to six-hour procedure basically treats their body as a crime scene. Victims need to have that evidence protected and preserved, and they also need to know their rights as they pertain to these kits. I would like to thank the Joyful Heart organization for two years of help and hard work in testifying to move this bill forward.”
The act would also provide victims of sexual assault offenses with certain rights pertaining to the sexual assault evidence kit and direct the attorney general, in consultation with victim advocacy organizations, to promulgate and publish a sexual assault victim’s bill or rights.
“Sexual Assault victims shouldn't face barriers to justice,” said Senator Mack. “This bill will lay out the rights of victims as they relate to these kits and it will also help law enforcement to administer justice more expeditiously. Establishing a sexual assault survivors’ bill of rights is one step closer to honoring survivors and their stories”
In the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault, a survivor may choose to undergo a forensic medical examination to collect any evidence left behind in the assault. A doctor or nurse will conduct the four-to-six-hour examination, and will preserve this evidence in a sexual assault evidence collection kit, commonly referred to as a rape kit. If a survivor chooses to report the rape to the police, the evidence in the rape kit can be one very powerful tool to bring a perpetrator to justice.
The measure now moves to the governor’s office.
For more information, contact:
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
Lt. Governor's Office
Secretary of State
Link to Public Records Request