Simotas’ rape kit backlog bill signed into law
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that mandates the “timely processing of rape kits” throughout the state and for forensic laboratories and law enforcement agencies to submit compliance reports.
The bill was sponsored by Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas in collaboration with Republican State Senator Kemp Hannon.
“When rape kits are backlogged, it’s like a disease infecting the criminal justice system,” Simotas said. “But now this new law will be the vaccine that prevents a future plague of unprocessed rape kits.”
The law mandates unprocessed kits to be inventories and tested. When law enforcement agencies receive a rape kit, it must be sent to a forensic lab for DNA testing within 10 days.
Within 90 days of receiving the kit, forensic labs must complete the testing for DNA evidence and send it to the Combined DNA Index system (CODIS), a national database.
The report must be then sent back to the police agency and local district attorney within 90 days.
“New York State needs this law to bring justice on behalf of rape survivors, to ensure prosecution and punishment for the guilty and the exoneration of the innocent,” Simotas added.
Forensic labs will now submit monthly reports to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. According to Simotas, that will reveal any lack of compliance with deadlines and untested kits.