MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and a bipartisan group of legislators proposed new legislation Tuesday to prevent a future backlog of untested sexual assault kits in Wisconsin.
There is currently no clear statutory framework for the collection and testing of sexual assault kits in Wisconsin, Kaul said at the Wisconsin State Capitol Tuesday during a press conference. The lack of legislation led to a backlog of thousands of kits that were not submitted to the state crime lab for testing until recent state and national efforts.
The new legislation would create clear guidelines and a timeline for the submission and processing of sexual assault kits.
Kaul said the legislation also protects survivors who do not choose to report the crime, and those who change their minds. The kits would be stored for ten years, or until a survivor decides to report the crime to law enforcement.
When a survivor does report the crime, the sexual assault nurse examiner would have 24 hours to notify law enforcement to collect the kit. Law enforcement would then have 72 hours to collect the kit from the nurse examiner, and then the kit must be sent to the crime lab within 14 days.
“The legislation we’re proposing today, which is supported by nurses, law enforcement, advocates for survivors, and a bipartisan group of legislators, sends a clear message: Wisconsin must never have another backlog of untested sexual assault kits,” Kaul said.
The kits would be stored anonymously on a numerical system. Lawmakers hope this system would encourage survivors to get the testing, even if they choose not to report the crime.
“We are excited to support this proposed legislation, which provides victims of sexual assault an avenue to provide vital DNA evidence while retaining the ability to decide if they want to report the incident to law enforcement,” said Beloit Police Chief David Zibolski. “The bill contains approporiate oversight and accountability for sexual assault kits, which preserves law enforcement’s ability to investigate and identify sexual assault offenders, many of whom victimize again and again.”
Kaul authored the proposed legislation with Sen. Rob Cowles, Sen. Patty Schachtner, Rep. John Macco, Rep. Melissa Sargent and Rep. David Steffen.