AP NEWS

Sexual assault testing bill heads to governor’s office

February 18, 2020 GMT

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) —

West Virginia may soon require the speedy testing and collection of rape kits under a bill heading to the governor’s office to be signed into law.

The House of Delegates gave final passage to the proposal Tuesday after approving a minor Senate amendment.

The measure would require the kits to be submitted to the state police’s forensic lab within 30 days or as soon as possible after collection. The kits could also be tracked and law enforcement would have to get a court order before disposing of the examinations.

The bill comes during a national push to clear backlogs of the kits, with more than 20 states approving bills to require submission guidelines or kit audits in the past two years, according to the advocacy group End the Backlog.

West Virginia officials in 2015 started an initiative to test nearly 2,400 shelved rape kits, some of the which dated back to the 1980s.

A spokesman for the state’s department of military affairs and public safety recently said the backlog is down to about 130 kits. The testing has also led to 166 matches to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, a database for linking crimes.

The bill now moves to the office of Gov. Jim Justice.