Springfield, IL… A bill spearheaded by State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) to empower sexual assault victims was signed in to law today by Governor Rauner. House Bill 528 will improve the processing and review of sexual assault evidence by requiring the Illinois State Police (ISP) to create and operate a statewide sexual assault evidence kit tracking system.
HB 528 creates the Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking and Reporting Commission, a group that will work to create the tracking system and develop the guidelines for sexual assault evidence tracking. The commission will bring together relevant stakeholders including 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.
“With this law, that Illinois has made a positive step towards transparency and accountability in the testing process, which will help decrease the likelihood of error, lessen the evidence kit backlog, and bring more offenders to justice,” Rep. McDermed said. “I am proud to have sponsored this legislation and I am hopeful that this will bring some peace of mind to sexual assault victims who will be able to better monitor their case.”
According to the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. Illinois became the first state in the nation to a enact rape kit reform law in 2010. With this new law, Illinois continues to be a national leader on the issue and this legislation will serve as a model for the rest of the nation. HB528 passed both legislative chambers unanimously this past spring and received nationwide support from groups like the Joyful Heart Foundation and Test400k.
“On behalf of the Test400K “Just Track It” Campaign, we commend Representative Margo McDermed for championing this critical legislation, and for sending an important message to survivors of sexual violence that they matter. A rape kit is not simply a box, rather it represents hope that a survivor will get the justice they deserve after experiencing a deeply traumatizing crime. We hope this legislation will succeed in raising awareness of the unacceptable backlog of untested rape kits and how technology, such as automated rape kit tracking and survivor notification tracking systems, can help establish desperately needed accountability to survivors and make all of our communities safer,” said Test400K Foundation Executive Director Deanne Benos. The Chicago-based Test400K Foundation was co-founded by Lifeway Foods CEO and Oscar-nominated “The Hunting Ground” Documentary Producer Julie Smolyansky, and advocates to eliminate the estimated backlog of 400,000 rape kits across our nation.
HB 528 is effective immediately.