|June 7, 2018||Press Office|
TRENTON – The Senate today approved legislation that would have the Attorney General conduct an audit of untested sexual assault examination kits in the state. Sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, the legislation would require the audit of the “rape kits” collected by law enforcement agencies that have not been submitted to a laboratory approved by the Attorney General for serology or DNA testing.
The study of the untested kits would help to get clarity on the policies and procedures that regulate the testing and what the state can do to empower victims who might be reluctant to report these crimes, Senator Sweeney said.
“It can be difficult for sexual assault survivors to come forward and report their perpetrators,” said Senator Sweeney. “Having this information and understanding the process can help ensure that survivors of sexual violence get justice and are treated with respect and dignity in the process.”
“We’re asking the Attorney General to conduct an audit of untested sexual assault examination kits because we need to have a better understanding of why some of these kits go untested,” said Senator Weinberg. “The data gained may help us develop better ways to counsel rape or assault survivors about their options and to train medical and law enforcement personnel to deal more effectively with sexual assault survivors.”
The bill, S-1216, would require the New Jersey attorney general, in consultation with the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, to develop a survey concerning the sexual assault examination kits in the possession of law enforcement agencies in the state that have not been submitted to a lab approved by the attorney general for serology or DNA testing. The survey would be distributed and completed by every law enforcement agency in the state that is responsible for the collection, storage and maintenance of sexual assault examination kits.
The audit would help gather information about the approximately 1,300 rape kits that are collected each year, including how many kits are tested and why others are not. This will help to identify gaps in response and procedures in the processing of forensic evidence. The attorney general would then prepare a report for the governor and the Legislature summarizing the information contained in the responses to the survey.
The vote was 38-0.