Governor Dayton Signs Rape Kit Reforms into Law

NEW YORK – The Joyful Heart Foundation today applauded the Minnesota state legislature’s passage of a law granting survivors of sexual assault the right to know about the status of their rape kit. Minnesota Bill SF2863 has now been signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton.

“Behind every kit is a person—a sexual assault survivor—waiting for justice,” said Ilse Knecht, Director of Policy & Advocacy for Joyful Heart. “Our victim notification research found that access to information about their case is central to survivors’ healing. Giving survivors access to information about their kits can help counter the loss of self-determination and control at the core of a sexual assault experience.”

In 2015, Minnesota enacted a law requiring the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) to complete a one-time audit untested rape kits. At that time, the BCA announced 171 police agencies had 3,482 untested rape kits.

Joyful Heart is implementing an ambitious campaign to pass comprehensive rape kit reform legislation in all 50 states framed around six pillars of reform. With the Governor’s signature, Minnesota has committed to two of Joyful Heart’s pillars. Learn more about the state’s progress at: http://www.endthebacklog.org/minnesota.

Every 98 seconds someone is sexually assaulted in America. In the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault, a victim may choose to undergo a 4-6 hour invasive medical forensic examination to collect evidence left behind during the assault. Survivors who take this step expect that their rape kits will be tested. The public expects the same. Yet too often, rape kits are left untested on evidence room shelves.

Minnesota Bill SF2863 also increases evidence retention protections and strengthens requirements for submitting some rape kits for testing. If a kit is not submitted within 60 days, law enforcement must now make a record, in consultation with the county attorney, stating the reasons why kit was not submitted. This added transparency will help officials enforce greater accountability over rape kit handling.

“Joyful Heart looks forward to working with the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, local advocates, survivors and legislators to further align Minnesota’s protocols with national best practices. We hope this effort helps inspire further action,” added Knecht.

Joyful Heart has created the premier national resource about the rape kit backlog, which includes an interactive map and resources for survivors, legislators, and the media. Learn more at: ENDTHEBACKLOG.org.

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The mission of the Joyful Heart Foundation is to transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors’ healing, and end this violence forever. www.joyfulheartfoundation.org

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