CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A bill aimed at testing thousands of rape kits is one step closer to becoming law in North Carolina.
House Bill 945, the Rape Evidence Collection Kit Tracking Act, received unanimous support to pass its second reading in the House on Thursday.
According to a summary, the bill would establish a statewide sexual assault kit tracking system and require tracking of all untested sexual assault kits.
The bill comes after the North Carolina Department of Justice released the 2017 Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit Law Enforcement Inventory Report in March.
The report showed there are 15,160 untested kits in North Carolina, according to a survey of law enforcement agencies. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department reported having 499 untested kits.
Cori Goldstein, director of the sexual trauma resource center with Safe Alliance, said any move to give survivor’s more information is “huge.”
“A lot of times that’s what victims are seeking is just knowledge and information about what is going on with their case,” Goldstein said.
Goldstein added this bill may give more survivors the chance at justice and a sense of closure.
“There is that potential to get perpetrators off the street so I think it’s really important to make sure that anytime there’s an opportunity to hold offenders accountable that we can do that,” she said.
According to the state report, it costs about $700 to test a kit. It will take $10.6 million to test all of the kits in the backlog. Goldstein said she hopes lawmakers remember that each one of those kits is tied to a life.
“Those are attached to someone, and it’s important that if those people are seeking justice, those people have that opportunity,” she said.
The bill would require kits purchased and distributed on or after October 1, 2018 to be compatible with the system.
If you or someone you know are looking for resources regarding sexual assault, Safe Alliance provides help through its domestic violence crisis line at (704) 332-2513 or its Rape Crisis Line at (704) 375-9900.
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