MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul today praised the unanimous passage of Senate Bill 200 from the Senate Committee on Insurance, Financial Services, Government Oversight and Courts.
“Thank you to the state senators who have moved Wisconsin closer to passing legislation that is designed to help prevent another backlog of untested sexual assault kits,” said AG Kaul. “Today’s unanimous vote is a positive step. But there’s also more work to be done to pass this legislation. I encourage the leadership of the state senate to move this legislation to the senate floor expeditiously, and I encourage the Assembly to hold a hearing on this legislation soon.”
Under current law there is no clear statutory procedure for the collection and processing of sexual assault kits. This lack of a standard process has resulted in thousands of kits not being submitted to the state crime laboratory for testing until recent state and national efforts. The proposed legislation creates procedures that will prevent a backlog in the future.
Under the bill, when a health care professional collects sexual assault evidence, a victim will have the choice to report to law enforcement or not. If the victim chooses not to report to law enforcement, the health care professional will send the kit to the state crime laboratories for storage within 72 hours. The crime lab will then store the kit for up to 10 years, or until the victim decides to report to law enforcement. This feature of the bill provides the sexual assault survivor with options in the event they change their mind about reporting.
If a victim does choose to report to law enforcement, under the proposed legislation the health care professional will notify law enforcement within 24 hours after collecting the sexual assault kit. The law enforcement agency then has 72 hours to collect the kit from the health care professional, and then 14 days to send the kit to the state crime laboratories for analysis.
The bill would also enable the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) to collect valuable information on sexual assault kits to better inform future evidence-based analysis and policy making.