ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — New legislation could give power to survivors of sexual assault. It would allow them to track the progress of their cases.
“Often times what happens is that survivors will leave the hospital and they will never hear about their rape kit again,” said Senator Alessandra Biaggi, adding that this method is completely unacceptable and creates additional trauma for victims.
Legislation from the 2018 budget required state departments to create a tracking system for rape kits, but that has yet to be fulfilled. She says not only would the tracking give survivors more control, but it would require all departments involved, to deal with the situation in a timely manner.
“It’s a really important tool as well to hold hospitals and law enforcement and state labs accountable for timely processing because we know that often time rape kits are sometimes sitting on shelves for months if not years which is again, another absurd statistic around rape kits,” she said.
33 states currently use similar tracking methods. The tracking system would use software that allows survivors to access information on their kits. However, the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault says, they want to ensure that the confidentiality of the survivor is not at risk.
Max Micallef, the policy director at the Coalition, referred to a California case where law enforcement used samples from a victims rape kit to investigate an unrealted crime.
“We just want to make sure that you know, of course the intention is there to uplift sexual violence survivors we trust that and we know that especially with these particular sponsors, we just want to make sure that ya know, all bases are covered,” said Micallef.
The Coalition would like to see more context on the bill and potentially have an independent body monitor the tracking system. However, the proposed tracking system does include bill language that specifies that tracking systems are in fact confidential and can only be accessed by the survivor or an employee who has the responsibility of updating the status or location of the kit.