BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – A bill is advancing in the legislature that would allow for survivors of rape to track their rape kits. One state senator hopes this will help address the backlog in the state crime lab.
After hearing many stories of rape kits getting lost or collecting dust somewhere, State Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, wanted to bring SB169 to have the State Police create a database where survivors can track where their kits are in the process.
“It all goes hand in hand on the value we place [on the] the whole sexual assault situation we have in Louisiana with the backlog, the lack of prosecutions and the kind of detached way we have of looking at the situation,” Mizell said.
The state crime lab has been reported to have a long backlog of processing evidence. For some rape survivors, they never know where their evidence ends up. Mizell’s bill would allocate money for the State Police to make an online database for survivors to track their kits anonymously.
“Victims of this horrible crime of rape have a lot of things to worry about in life. And one of them should not be what happened to the evidence?” said State Rep. Bill Wheat, R-Ponchatoula.
Mizell hopes this will add a layer of accountability and make survivors feel comforted to know what is happening with their evidence. The bill also gives money to hire more people at the crime lab to help with the tracking system.
“We will know whether the assaults are being prosecuted, we’ll know whether the test has been processed, we’ll know exactly where it all falls into the process,” Mizell said.
State Police have been working with Mizell on the bill. It also requires the agency to give an annual report on how many kits have been collected, processed and how long it has taken to process them.
The bill now goes to the full House for more debate. If it is not amended, this will be the final vote on the bill before it heads to the governor’s desk.