Contact: Amanda Stamper
Gov. Matt Bevin, joined by Sen. Denise Harper Angel, Sen. Whitney Westerfield, Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rick Sanders and Kentucky State Auditor Mike Harmon, today ceremonially signed Senate Bill 63, requiring all sexual assault examination kits which have not been subjected to testing, be submitted to the Kentucky State Police forensic laboratory by January 1, 2017.
“Prior to 2016, there were over 3,000 untested rape kits in Kentucky. This number is unacceptable,” said Gov. Bevin. “Since our inauguration, we have called upon the legislature to help us address this issue. We asked for $4.5 million in funding to fix the backlog, and both the House and Senate stepped up and delivered in a big way. This is an excellent example of how government is intended to work and all of Kentucky is better for it.”
Senate Bill 63 also requires that by July 1, 2018, the average completion rate for classification of sexual assault evidence collection kits not exceed 90 days and by July 1, 2020, the average completion rate not exceed 60 days. It also increases membership of the Sexual Assault Response Team Advisory Committee to include the executive director of the Kentucky Association of Children’s Advocacy Centers.
It also specifies that no evidence subject to DNA testing shall be disposed of prior to trial unless the evidence has been in custody for over fifty years; or if more than 10 years, the prosecution has determined that the defendant will not be tried and has made a motion to destroy the evidence.
Senator Denise Harper Angel said SB 63 gives victims the justice they’ve been waiting for.
“SB 63 is about victims and survivors who have been waiting for justice,” said Sen. Harper Angel. “With its passage and the Governor’s signature, we just told them they will wait no more.”
Senator Whitney Westerfield said the funding will help protect Kentucky's sexual assault victims and survivors, and prevent a backlog from reoccurring.
“We learned last year how many untested sexual assault kits were hiding in Kentucky,” Sen. Westerfield said. “This year we can celebrate the passage of SB 63, a bill aimed at preventing a backlog from happening again. SB 63 creates policies that improve reporting and handling of kits, and paired with the budget that directs critical funding to the Kentucky State Police Lab, equips KSP Central Lab Manager Laura Sudkamp and her brilliant team of professionals to protect Kentucky's sexual assault victims and survivors for a generation.”
Commissioner Rick Sanders said KSP is committed to utilizing all resources possible to assist victims of sexual assault crimes and holding those who commit these heinous crimes accountable.
“Thanks to Sen. Harper Angel, champion behind SB 63, Sen. Westerfield, Gov. Bevin and the General Assembly, KSP is now getting much needed resources to eliminate the rape kit backlog and meet the growing demands of forensic testing,” said Commissioner Sanders. “KSP is committed to utilizing all resources possible to assist victims of sexual assault crimes by bringing to justice those who commit these heinous acts.”
Kentucky State Auditor Mike Harmon is hopeful this legislation will help bring justice to those who have been impacted by the backlog of the collection kits.
“I was pleased to work in a bipartisan manner with Gov. Bevin and Senators Harper Angel and Westerfield in supporting Senate Bill 63 to streamline testing based on the results of a special examination by my predecessor that shed light on the large number of untested sexual assault kits in our state,” said Auditor Harmon. “I am proud of the work our staff completed, and we are hopeful this legislation will help bring justice to those who have been impacted by the prior backlog. It’s time we submit and test the kits more efficiently for them.”
Watch a video of the Senate Bill 63 ceremonial signing.
View a photo of the Senate Bill 63 ceremonial signing.