NEWS: Legislation Pre-Filed to Ensure Sexual Assault Examination Kits are Processed in a Timely Manner

House Bill 31 Requires All Kits are Tested Within 18 Months and Creates a Standard Protocol for 200 Law Enforcement Agencies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 9, 2017

Juneau – Today, Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) pre-filed a bill mandating that all sexual assault examination kits collected in Alaska be tested within 18 months and tracked through the process by the Alaska Department of Public Safety.  The last count found around 3,600 untested kits in Alaska.  Currently, there is no tracking mechanism or standard protocol for the over 200 law enforcement agencies in Alaska that may receive untested kits.

“I began working on the issue of untested rape kits in 2015 by filing a bill requiring a statewide audit. I was pleased when Governor Walker and his team took the lead in that effort and completed a statewide audit that allowed us to receive federal funds to test the backlog,” said Rep. Tarr.  “The sexual assault examination kits collected in Alaska contain DNA and other evidence that can bring criminals to justice but only if they are tested.  A recent case in Alaska shows the power of collecting DNA information.  It is utterly unacceptable that evidence of violent crimes like rape and sexual assault go untested and criminals are walking free.”

A review of the untested sexual assault examination kits in Alaska found that many of them date back over 20 years. 

“It is discouraging to know that there are many years’ worth of untested sexual assault examination kits in a state with a rape rate over two times the national average,” said Rep. Tarr.  “It is past time to make solving this public safety emergency a priority of everyone in Alaska, including the members of the Alaska House and Senate.”

House Bill 31 calls for development of a statewide protocol for processing of rape kits to be used by the 200 law enforcement agencies statewide and a new inventory of untested rape kits in Alaska by September 1, 2017.  The bill also stipulates that the Department of Public Safety transmit a report on the issue to the Alaska Legislature by November 1st, 2017.  The report must contain the exact number of untested sexual assault examination kits and a plan for addressing the backlog of untested kits. 

H.B. 31 will be formally introduced and receive committee assignments when the 30th Alaska Legislature convenes on January 17, 2017.  

For more information, please contact House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.

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