Nov. 29, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
Rape kits will now be tested more expeditiously, due to the efforts by a local lawmaker.
Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas sponsored legislation that passed the Assembly in June requiring speedy testing of rape kits. Her bill, which was also passed in the state senate in June, was signed into law yesterday by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Under the new law, a rape kit must be sent to a lab for DNA testing within 10 days from when a law enforcement agency received it, and testing must be completed and the results must be reported back within 90 days. The new legislation also mandates that all unprocessed rape kits must be inventoried and tested.
“When rape kits are backlogged, it’s like a disease infecting the criminal justice system. But now this new law will be the vaccine that prevents a future plague of unprocessed rape kits,” Simotas said.
Forensic labs and law enforcement agencies that submit kits for testing will also be required to submit monthly reports to ensure compliance with the new law, and to detail the existence of any untested kits.
“New York State needs this law to bring justice on behalf of rape survivors, to ensure prosecution and punishment for the guilty, and exoneration for the innocent,” Simotas said.