Springfield, IL… Working together with the Illinois State Police, State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) has successfully pushed forward a bill to improve the processing and review of sexual assault evidence. House Bill 528 requires the State to create and operate a statewide sexual assault evidence kit tracking system.
“It’s important that we not only implement a tracking system in Illinois, but we make sure we get it right,” Rep. McDermed said. “A critical part of ensuring justice for victims of sexual assault is these evidence kits. The long, arduous process of testing can be disheartening for victims, especially when they don’t know the status of their case.”
The bill creates the Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking and Reporting Commission, a group that will work to create the tracking system and develop guidelines for sexual assault evidence tracking. The bill will bring together relevant actors from the state police, testing labs, local law enforcement, the court system, hospitals, and victim’s rights groups to discuss how to handle transfers of evidence, testing, payment for testing, and other important factors. The commission will also make sure that the courts, testing labs, and law enforcement are all adequately communicating with each other so that evidence does not get lost or end up creating a backlog crisis. HB 528 is modeled off of similar, successful legislation in Michigan.
“By making the process more transparent we can decrease the likelihood of error, lessen the rape kit backlog at the state police, and hopefully bring more offenders to justice,” Rep. McDermed continued.
HB 528 was unanimously voted out of the House Committee on Human Services and will next be considered in a full vote on the House floor.