Bill Eliminates Backlog of Untested Sexual-Assault Kits

In Olympia, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law a bill that some supporters are calling the most important of the 2019 legislative session.  Dan Frizzell from the Washington State House Democratic Caucus has more.

When a rape or other sexual assault occurs, medical personnel gather evidence from the victim’s person and clothing, including material containing DNA markers. The assumption would be that this evidence is quickly tested in an attempt to identify a suspect, but that’s not how it’s worked, up now.  The testing process is costly, time-consuming, and requires highly trained personnel. In Washington, as well as other states, untested sexual-assault kits have piled up in police evidence lockers and hospital storerooms. State Representative Tina Orwall, a Des Moines Democrat and dedicated victims’ advocate, was appalled by the delays and began a multi-year effort to fix the problem. It came to fruition Tuesday when the governor signed her latest bill into law.

ORWALL: “No survivor’s voice will ever go unheard again. There’s over 10,000 kits that weren’t tested, and every one of those was a survivor, whose voice wasn’t heard, who didn’t have justice, and potentially a very dangerous offender is still in our community.  So we’re fixing a broken system. We have a new timeline to test all the older kits and moving forward we will test new kits within 45 days.  It will never sit on a shelf collecting dust again.”

Earlier laws written by Orwall have already been chipping away at the backlog of sexual-assault kits, and have so far led to the arrests of five serial rapists. In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.