RALEIGH, N.C. — A team of North Carolina lawmakers announced details on the Standing Up for Rape Victims Act, or Survivor Act, which would help get more than 15,000 untested rape kits tested around the state.
The act will mandate submitting rape kits for testing to an accredited lab for local law enforcement agencies. Attorney General Josh Stein and bill sponsors Sen. Warren Daniel and Reps. Jamie Boles, Carson Smith, Mary Belk, and Billy Richardson unveiled the legislative proposal Tuesday.
The legislation provides $6 million in funding over the next two years to address the current backlog of sexual assault kits in local law enforcement custody across the state. Stein also announced a $2 million grant from the Governor's Crime Commission to outsource around 3,000 kits.
“The untested sexual assault kits sitting on law enforcement shelves are one of this state’s biggest threats to public safety,” said Stein. “This legislation, along with the $4 million grant funding my office has secured, will allow us to move forward on testing some of the more than 15,000 sexual assault kits currently in local law enforcement custody. But this legislation is also forward-looking – to prevent such a backlog from occurring again, it requires law enforcement agencies to submit these kits for testing on a going forward basis within 45 days of the kit’s collection. The Survivor Act will go a long way in making North Carolina safer from serial rapists and bringing justice to survivors of these heinous crimes.”
The legislation will provide funding for the State Crime Lab to hire more forensic scientists to meet the need for testing kits in the months to come. Stein and others say the act will bring justice to more sexual assault victims and prevent backlogs.
“We are here today with the Attorney General to introduce proposed bipartisan legislation to ensure that every sexual assault evidence collection kit reported to law enforcement in NC is tested,” said Rep. Boles. “This proposed legislation also sets up a process for testing the inventory of untested sexual assault evidence collection kits currently in storage throughout the state.”