Sexual assault kit reform law becomes law

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New law to help prevent future backlog of sexual assault kits in Wisconsin

MADISON, Wisconsin – On December 6, 2021, Governor Tony Evers, lawmakers, law enforcement, victim service providers and survivors came together to sign legislation designed to prevent a future backlog of untested sexual assault kits. This legislation was drafted to ensure that sexual assault kits in Wisconsin are collected and sent to Wisconsin state crime labs efficiently and quickly. The goal: to avoid another backlog of untested sexual assault kits. In recent years, the state has dealt with the pending kits and made a number of arrests as a result.

Prior to this legislation, there was no clear legal procedure for collecting and handling sexual assault kits. This lack of a standard process contributed to the fact that thousands of kits were not submitted to the state’s crime lab for testing until recent national and national efforts. This new law creates procedures that will prevent a backlog in the future.
With these changes, when a healthcare professional collects evidence of sexual assault, a victim will have the choice of whether or not to report to law enforcement. If the victim chooses not to report to law enforcement, the medical professional will send the kit to state crime labs for storage within 72 hours. The criminal lab will then keep the kit for up to 10 years, or until the victim decides to report to law enforcement. This feature of the bill gives survivors of sexual assault options in the event that they change their mind about reporting.

If a victim chooses to report to law enforcement, the healthcare professional will notify law enforcement within 24 hours of collecting the sexual assault kit. The law enforcement agency then has 72 hours to collect the kit from the medical professional, then 14 days to send the kit to state forensic laboratories for analysis.

The bill also provides for the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) to collect valuable information about sexual assault kits to better inform future evidence-based analysis and policy development.

This legislation was originally introduced in May 2019. Although the bill was passed by the State Senate, it was not heard by the State Assembly during the 2019-2020 legislative session. . The bill, Senate Bill 71, was re-introduced in the 2021 legislative session and was passed by both the Senate and the Assembly in a voice vote.


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