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Wisconsin Senate approves sexual assault kit bills

March 16, 2021 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Senate overwhelmingly approved a pair of bipartisan bills Tuesday that would establish protocols for collecting and tracking sexual assault evidence kits.

The first bill would require health professionals to notify police within 72 hours whenever a sexual assault kit has been collected and police to send kits to the state crime lab within 14 days. The second bill would require the state Department of Justice to create a database for victims to track their kits’ status.

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Tens of thousands of sexual assault evidence kits in the U.S. have gone untested for a variety of reasons. Sometimes prosecutors decide cases are too weak to pursue or victims refuse to cooperate. Victim advocates have been pushing for years to get the kits tested in hopes of identifying serial offenders.

The Senate passed the kit submission bill on a voice vote and the database bill 32-0. They now go to the Assembly. Similar bills died in that house last legislative session.