Rape Kits Hearing

In this file photo, Rep. Melissa Wintrow speaks during a House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee hearing on her sponsored bill on rape kit testing which will mandate untested rape kits to be tracked and have law enforcement track how many kits go untested.

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BOISE — A bill to mandate law enforcement agencies track all sexual assault kits took another step forward in the House of Representatives on Monday.

House Bill 528, sponsored by Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, would create a uniform policy on how individual law enforcement agencies test rape kits. A rape kit is the collection of DNA evidence from a sexual assault victim’s body through a forensic exam following alleged sexual abuse.

The proposed bill will move forward for a third read before the House.

Currently, there is no state law in place regarding the tracking of sexual assault kits that remain untested. The Idaho State Police Forensic Services lab in Meridian is responsible for testing all kits for evidence, with the exception of those that are tested at an FBI lab.

The lab currently mandates all kits be submitted for testing unless law enforcement determines no crime has been committed or a victim requests his or her kit not be tested.

If it passes, the bill would mandate each agency track how many kits go untested, and each agency must offer an explanation as to why the kit was untested.

It would also add a stipulation mandating that if police decide not to submit a kit for testing, a county prosecutor must approve the decision.

If the policy is implemented, a total of $222,330 would be needed from the state’s general fund in the first year to support the lab. ISP has stated it would need two new DNA analysts on staff. In every year following, if the bill passes, only $207,300 would be requested from the state’s general fund.

Ruth Brown is the public safety and digital first reporter. Contact her at 465-8105 or rbrown@idahopress.com. Follow @RuthBrownNews.

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