The second part of Alabama’s sexual assault survivors' bill of rights passed the House committee and will go to the floor for a vote.
House Bill 21 (HB21), sponsored by State Rep. Chip Brown (R-Hollinger's Island), would require every law enforcement agency and the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences to report specific data regarding sexual assault cases to the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA).
HB21 passed the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday.
According to Brown, HB21 is the continuation of a 2021 law granting several rights to sexual assault survivors.
The sexual assault survivors' bill of rights, sponsored by Brown, was signed into law in 2021. The law requires police to notify victims of their rights under the bill's provisions. It also codified a time restriction for how long law enforcement is to keep evidence.
The rights include:
· To not be prevented or charged for receiving a medical forensic examination
· To have the sexual assault evidence collection kit preserved without charge for at least 20 years or, if the assault occurred while a minor, until age 40
· To be informed by law enforcement of test results, such as DNA profile matches, from the examination kit if such information does not comprise or impede an investigation.
· To receive notification from a law enforcement agency at least 60 days before a sexual assault evidence kit is disposed of or destroyed
· To be granted preservation of an evidence kit for an additional 20 years if the survivor requests
HB21 would require ALEA to collect data on sexual assaults and present it annually to the public and the chairs of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. The data would include sexual assault data by jurisdiction across the state.
"I think it's a good piece of legislation because it informs the public, but at the same time, I think it will keep law enforcement on their toes," Brown told 1819 News in February.
The data would be collated state-wide and include the number of new sexual assault cases reported, the number of solved cases, the number of cases in progress, and the number of cases where a forensic examination was not conducted and for what reason.
"It requires law enforcement, including campus police, to report the number of sexual assault cases that occur in their jurisdiction every year," Brown continued. "It doesn't go into specifics of particular cases, but it gives that status of those cases; how many have been sent to forensics, how many have been solved, how many have gone to court, that sort of thing.
He added, "That's done in a twofold effort. One is to help speed up the process so that law enforcement agencies have an awareness of the number of sexual assault cases they have and how they're being expedited. And the second part is just to make the public aware. If you've got a child going to college, you need to know how many sexual assaults happen on that campus."
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