House passes Edwards bill requiring crime lab to audit DNA samples from rape kits

 

STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives today passed legislation introduced by Majority Floor Manager John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth) that requires an audit of DNA samples that have been collected by law enforcement rape kits.

In the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault, a survivor may choose to undergo a forensic medical examination to collect any evidence left behind in the assault. A doctor or nurse conducts the examination, and preserves the evidence in a sexual assault evidence collection kit, commonly referred to as a rape kit. If a survivor chooses to report the rape to the police, the evidence in the rape kit can be one very powerful tool to bring a perpetrator to justice.

The legislation (2023-H 5435A) would require the state crime laboratory to conduct an audit of DNA samples in the DNA databank to ascertain the rate of compliance with recording requirements.

“Rape victims endure not only the brutality of sexual assault, but the indignity of a four- to six-hour procedure that basically treats their body as a crime scene,” said Representative Edwards. “Victims need to have that evidence protected and preserved, and this bill will ensure that the law is being upheld by the agencies responsible for storing and maintaining that evidence.”

Representative Edwards credits the Joyful Heart Foundation with its efforts at crafting and advocating for this and other related legislation. Since 2004, Joyful Heart has been a leading national organization with a mission to transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, and support survivors’ healing.

The bill comes in the wake of a law (R.I. General Laws Chapter 23-98) sponsored by Representative Edwards and enacted last year that requires any entity that receives, maintains, stores or preserves sexual assault evidence kits to submit a report to the Department of Health annually, setting forth the total number of untested kits in possession of such entity. The law also provides victims of sexual assault offenses with certain rights pertaining to the sexual assault evidence kit and direct the attorney general, in consultation with victim advocacy organizations, to promulgate and publish a sexual assault victim’s bill or rights.

The measure now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2023-S 0630) has been introduced by Sen. Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield).                                                        

 

Donald Trump and President Biden are getting ready for the first debate of the 2024 presidential election. Biden is hunkering down with top aides and advisers at Camp David holding mock debates and isn't expected to make any public appearances until the debate in Atlanta on Thursday. Trump has been holding rallies and meeting with senators and allies to go over policies likely to come up when the two political rivals face off.        The President's son wants a new trial after his gun conviction. Hunter Biden submitted his motion today. He previously submitted an appeal in a Delaware federal court last week, then quickly withdrew it without explanation. Hunter was found guilty for unlawfully purchasing a gun while addicted to drugs. He faces up to 25 years in prison when he's sentenced.       The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to Tennessee's ban on gender-affirming care for minors. The challenge will be taken up by the high court during its next term, reviewing a decision by an appeals court that upheld the law. More than 20 states have restricted gender-affirming care for minors.       Forecasters say the Southern Plains and Southeast can expect sweltering temperatures this week. Some cities like Little Rock, Arkansas and Dallas could hit 100-degrees, with the heat index possibly reaching 110 degrees in some areas. Some high temperature records could be broken today in places like Lincoln, Nebraska and Wichita, Kansas.        A record-breaking number of people are expected to travel for the Fourth of July this year. Triple-A predicts nearly 71 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday travel period, which runs June 29th through July 7th. That's up five-percent from last year.        Pop superstar Singer Justin Timberlake is speaking out about his drunk driving arrest as he resumes his world tour. The singer drew massive applause during a weekend show in Chicago when he told the crowd "it's been a tough week." He was arrested in Sag Harbor, Long Island last Tuesday after allegedly running a stop sign.