TOPEKA — A new Kansas law will require the review of all sexual assault kits in a timely fashion, ensuring no tests languish on the shelf as they have previously.
House Bill 2228, signed into law Friday by Gov. Laura Kelly, requires these tests to be analyzed within 30 days of collecting the evidence and increase the time the Kansas Bureau of Investigation would keep all unreported sexual assault kits from five years to 20 years. The bill also authorizes law enforcement to collect evidence at child advocacy centers, where child victims may feel safer and more comfortable.
“Survivors of sexual assault deserve peace of mind and assurance that the justice system is working diligently to prosecute their abuser,” Kelly said. “The delays they’ve faced are unacceptable. This commonsense legislation accelerates justice and enforcement of crime victims’ rights.”
The law passed through the House and Senate without opposition.
Currently, if a survivor chooses not to report the assault, the test is stored for up to five years because they may later choose to report it. That timeframe was put in place to match the statute of limitation on reporting which no longer exists.
National recommendations now suggest keeping the kits for 20 years, which would mirror the updated statute of limitations in Kansas. Since 2015, KBI has received 1,038 anonymous tests, of which only 115 people later decided to report sexual assault.
“House Bill 2228 is a good first step to ensuring the wheels of justice are turning and all victims are better served,” said Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes, D-Lenexa. “This legislation creates structure and accountability for making sure sexual assault victims receive the justice they deserve.”
Sen. Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg, said she also is pushing for the Senate to hold interim meetings covering the statute of limitations on victims of childhood sexual assault.
“Kansans knew that it was unacceptable that rape kit testing delays left sexual assault victims feeling overlooked for months and even years,” Baumgardner said. “I believe this legislation gives victims the necessary assurance that a critical tool for attaining justice will be processed without delays.”
Kelly signed a half-dozen other bills into law, including a measure creating a statutory framework that supporters say will encourage technology-enabled fiduciary financial institutions to set up business in Kansas.
Legislation backed this year and last by the Legislature and Gov. Laura Kelly has fallen under the scrutiny of Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, who called for the suspension of the operations of the Dallas-based company Beneficient and that all TEFFI-related legislation be repealed.
Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: email@example.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.
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