'Great Day For Survivors': Governor Stitt Signs Rape Kit Legislation
OKLAHOMA CITY - Governor Kevin Stitt signed three separate bills Tuesday, July 30, 2019 surrounding rape kit protocol.
Sexual assault survivor and advocate Danielle Tudor called it a great day for survivors.
"These three bills are really going to change the landscape in how we handle sexual assault," said Tudor.
Senate Bill 967, effective July 1, creates a statewide electronic tracking system. The system will trace each rape kit's location and whether it has been processed or not. Law enforcement, forensic labs and medical providers will participate in the system.
Senate Bill 971 broadens sexual assault training of state law enforcement to help understand the level of trauma victims undergo.
"How they treat that victim, how they respond and how they interview them can really make or break a case and whether that survivor decides to move forward with the criminal justice process," said Tudor.
Senate Bill 975 creates a timeline for law enforcement in getting rape kits to labs for testing, and mandates they're kept for evidence.
Law enforcement will have 20 days once they receive a kit to get it to the lab for testing.
The bill also requires rape kits to be kept as evidence for decades.
"What this bill doesn't do is mandate how long they have to test it, so that is another key component that we will see coming down the line," said Tudor. "We didn't want to set crime labs up for failure by mandating once you get that kit, you've got five or six weeks to get it back tested."
Time will determine an outcome; one Tudor is looking forward to.
"I think we will learn a lot of over the next year here, and I think you will see more legislation," said Tudor. "That kind of helps that process move a little bit quicker."
Tudor said she would like to see more victims involved with the Criminal Justice Reform Task Force. She said Governor Stitt has agreed to meet with her and discuss the topic.