Bill to reduce rape kit backlog signed into law

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ORLANDO — New legislation signed by Governor Scott on Wednesday hopes to protect victims of sexual assault.

The law would require law enforcement agencies to turn over rape kits for testing within 30 days. Crime labs would then have 120 days to complete an analysis.

“All victims will benefit from this news. What it means is the cases that do happen, it will really give additional evidence,” said Phil Archer, State Attorney for the 18th Judicial Circuit.

In January, the state of Florida came under fire after an audit revealed more than 13,000 kits had not been tested. The state said the backlog was due to funding.

However, the state plans to give more than $10 million to reduce the backlog. The money will be used for overtime, training, biology testing and more.

“It is a great win for all of law enforcement to get the adequate funding to make sure we analyze every piece of evidence that is available,” said Archer.

Lui Damiani is the executive director for the Victim Service Center of Central Florida. The certified rape crisis center helps victims through counseling. It also collects DNA evidence.

“We get more and more calls, part of that is because of population and part of it is because there is more faith in the system,” said Damiani.

Damiani said the legislation is crucial for victims of sexual assault. Last week, he said 16 cases of sexual assault were reported to the center.

“It gives victims the very clear assurance if they go now and report this crime, that evidence is going to be tested and there is going to be a DNA profile,” said Damiani.

The law goes into effect on July 1.

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