WKYT reported on Feb. 6 that a new bill, called SB 97, would allow victims of rape to track the progress of their rape kits. The bill is co-sponsored by Senator Whitney Westerfield of Hopkinsville and will be introduced to the senate in the 2019 legislative session, according to WKYT.
This bill could be invaluable for women going forward and is certainly something that we should support. The bill would implement online tracking for rape kits, similar to how we might track a package from Amazon. Such tracking would be anonymous for victim safety.
They would be able to anonymously track the kit throughout the testing process through the use of a serial number. Tracking points include when when the kit is picked up from the hospital, which law enforcement agency picks it up, when it arrives at the lab, when the report is completed for identification of semen and/or saliva, when DNA testing on positive serology testing is complete, if a DNA profile was obtained from the evidence and when the profile is entered into the DNA database and when/ if there is a hit with the National Database, according to WKYT’s article.
Not only would this provide much peace of mind for victims who have gone through a horrific ordeal just to be tested, but it would provide more accountability for the system administrators. It could ensure that the kits don’t just get lost in the system along with thousands of others.
USA Today reported in 2015 that tens of thousands of rape kits are untested across our country. More recently in our state, several hefty grants have helped Kentucky State Police test thousands of backlogged kits. While this is great news now, we must keep in mind the thousands of faces behind those kits who waited for years, not knowing what their progress was or if they would ever be avenged. I can think of few greater tragedies.
While certainly there needs to be many improvements in the testing system including, but not limited to, more grants and personnel, SB 97 is a fine step forward in the meantime. Though it doesn’t offer to speed up the process, it does offer peace of mind and real-time updates, which no doubt will help many victims in the future, should it pass.