Improving the process for victims of sexual assault

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The Senate Judiciary Committee heard a bill this week that sets up procedures for handling evidence kits collected after a sexual assault. Over the past few years, legislators have focused their efforts on managing a significant backlog of untested sexual assault kits that meant charges were not filed in sexual assault cases for lack of evidence. While the backlog is still a problem, Minnesota may soon receive federal grant dollars to assist with the processing and storage of the untested kits.

The bill sets up a new process for the collection, testing, and storage of sexual assault kits to try to avert backlog. It requires law enforcement to retrieve a sexual assault examination kit from a health care professional within 10 days of receiving notice in writing, by telephone, or by electronic communication, if the victim agrees to release their kit for testing. Within 60 days of receiving a sexual assault examination kit, law enforcement must submit the kit for testing, unless the police determine the kit is not usable as evidence in a case.

The bill passed on a unanimous voice vote and will next be heard on the Senate floor. (SF 2863)