House Bill #7079 (2022)

AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY -- SEXUAL ASSAULT EVIDENCE KITS

Requires any entity that receives, maintains, stores or preserves sexual assault evidence kits to submit a report to the department of health, annually, setting forth the total number of untested kits in possession of such entity.

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  • 2022 – H 7079
  • 2022 – H 7079 SUBSTITUTE A
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  • LC003681
  • LC003681/SUB A/2
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  • S T A T E O F R H O D E I S L A N D
  • IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
  • JANUARY SESSION, A.D. 2022
  • ____________
  • A N A C T
  • RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY – SEXUAL ASSAULT EVIDENCE KITS
  • Introduced By: Representatives Edwards, Kazarian, Cassar, McEntee, Cortvriend,
  • Bennett, Fogarty, Craven, Caldwell, and Ajello
  • Date Introduced: January 12, 2022
  • Referred To: House Health & Human Services
  • It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
  • SECTION 1. Title 23 of the General Laws entitled "HEALTH AND SAFETY" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following chapter:
  • CHAPTER 97
  • SEXUAL ASSAULT EVIDENCE KITS
  • 23-97-1. Short title.
  • This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Sexual Assault Evidence Kits Act".
  • 23-97-2. Definitions.
  • For purposes of this chapter:
  • (1)"Accredited laboratory" means a DNA laboratorythat is formallyrecognized and meets or exceeds a list of standards, includingthe Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director's quality assurance standards, to perform specific tests, established by a nonprofit professional association of persons actively involved in forensic science that is nationally recognized within the forensic community in accordance with the provisions of the federal DNA Identification Act, 42 USC § 14132, or other applicable law.
  • (1)"Accredited laboratory" means a DNA laboratorythat is formallyrecognized and meets or exceeds a list of standards, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director's quality assurance standards, to perform specific tests, established by a nonprofit professional association of persons actively involved in forensic science that is nationally recognized within the forensic community in accordance with the provisions of the federal DNA Identification Act, 42 USC § 14132, or other applicable law.
  • (2) "Anonymous kit" or "unreported kit" means a kit that is collected from a victim of sexual assault through a medical forensic examination where the victim elects, at the time of the examination, not to report the sexual assault offense to a law enforcement agency.
  • (3) "Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)" means the FBI's program of support for criminal justice DNA databases as well as the software used to run the databases.
  • (4) "DNA analysis" means the isolation of autosomal deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) to develop DNA profiles that are eligible for entry into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), DNAsamplestakenfromevidencecontainingDNAfromaknownindividualorofunknownorigin, the determination of the DNA test results, and entry of resulting DNA profiles into CODIS.
  • (5) "Law enforcement agency" means a local police department, the Rhode Island state police, the office of the attorney general, or a federal, state, or local governmental body that enforces criminal laws and maintains employees who have a statutory power of arrest.
  • (6) "Medical forensic examination" means an examination of a sexual assault patient by a health care provider, ideally one who has specialized education and clinical experience in the collection of forensic evidence and treatment of these patients. Such examination may include gathering information from the patient for the medical forensic history, an examination, coordinating treatment of injuries, documentation of biological and physical findings, collection of evidence from the patient, information, treatment, and referrals for sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, suicidal ideation, alcohol and substance abuse, and other non-acute medical concerns, and follow-up as needed to provide additional healing, treatment, or collection of evidence.
  • (7) "Newly collected kit" means a kit that has been collected after time frames and requirements for testing kits were enacted.
  • (8) "Previouslyuntestedsexual assault evidence kits" meanshuman biological specimen(s) collected by a health care provider during a forensic medical examination from the victim of a sexually-oriented criminal offense that has not been through DNA analysis and has been held untested by medical facilities, law enforcement agencies, or accredited laboratories.
  • (9) "Sexual assault evidence kit" or "kit" means a collection of human biological specimen(s) collected by a health care provider during a medical forensic examination from the victim of a sex offense.
  • (10) "Status" means the location, date and time when the kit is transferred within the chain of custody.
  • 23-97-3. Annual statewide inventory of sexual assault evidence kits.
  • (a) Within one hundred eighty (180) days of the effective date of this chapter, and annually thereafter, all medical facilities, law enforcement agencies, crime laboratories, and any other facilities that receive, maintain, store, or preserve sexual assault evidence kits (kits) shall submit a report containing the following information to the department of health:
  • (1) The total number of all untested kits in possession of each medical facility, law enforcement agency, crime laboratory, and any other facility that receives, maintains, stores, or preserves kits.
  • (2) For each kit the facility shall provide:
  • (i) The category of the kit:
  • (A) Whether sexual assault was reported to law enforcement; or
  • (B) Whether the victim chose not to file a report with law enforcement.
  • (ii) The status of the kit:
  • (A) For kits of medical facilities: The date when the kit was reported to law enforcement, and the date when the kit was picked up by law enforcement;
  • (A) For kits of medical facilities: The date when the kit was reported to law enforcement, and the date when the kit was delivered to the state health laboratory;
  • (B) For kits of a law enforcement agency: The date the kit was picked up from a medical facility, the date when the kit was submitted to a crime laboratory, and for any kit not submitted to a crime lab, the reason the kit was not submitted;
  • (C) For kits belonging to another jurisdiction: The date that the jurisdiction was notified and the date the kit was picked up; and
  • (D) For kits in possession of crime laboratories: The date the kit was received from law enforcement and from which agency the kit was received; the date when the kit was tested; the date when the resulting information was entered into CODIS or other relevant state or local DNA databases, and the reasoning, if applicable, that a kit was not tested or a DNA profile was not created.
  • (3) The total number of kits in possession of the entity for more than thirty (30) days or beyond the statutory time frame for kit submission and testing.
  • (4) The total number of kits destroyed and the reason for destruction.
  • (5) The department of health shall compile the data from the reports in a summary report. The summary report shall include a list of all agencies or facilities that failed to participate in the preparation of the report. The annual summary report shall be made publicly available on the department of health's website, and shall be submitted to the governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, the president of the senate, and the office of the attorney general.
  • (b) Within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this chapter, all previously untested kits in medical facilities or other facilities that collect kits shall be submitted to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
  • (c) Within one hundred eighty (180) days of the effective date of this chapter, each law enforcement agency shall submit all previously untested kits, including those sexual assaults past the statute of limitations, to the accredited public crime laboratory or laboratories.
  • (1) Anonymous or unreported kits are exempted from this section unless the victim files a report and consents to the testing of their kit.
  • (2) Anonymous kits shall be safely stored by the law enforcement agency in a manner that preserves evidence for a duration of twenty (20) years or the applicable statute of limitations, whichever is greater.
  • (2) Anonymous and unreported kits shall be safely stored by the state health laboratory in a manner that preserves evidence for a duration of ten (10) years or the applicable statute of limitations, whichever is greater.
  • (3) Victims who do not file a report with law enforcement at the time the kit was collected shall not negate their right to report the crime and have the kit tested in the future.
  • (d) An accredited public crime laboratory shall test all previously untested sexual assault kits within ninety (90) days of receipt from the local law enforcement agency.
  • (e) Testing shall be pursued to develop autosomal DNA profiles that are eligible for entry into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and local DNA databases.
  • (1) With the goal of generating a CODIS-eligible DNA profile, if a laboratory is unable to obtain an autosomal CODIS-eligible DNA profile, the laboratory should evaluate the case to determine if any other DNA-typing results could be used for investigative purposes.
  • (2) In cases where testing has resulted in a DNA profile, the laboratory shall enter the full profile into the Combined DNA Index System Database (CODIS) and local DNA databases. The average completion rate for this analysis and classification shall not exceed ninety (90) days.
  • (3) If an accredited public crime laboratory is unable to meet the deadline set forth in subsection (e)(2) of this section, the kits shall be outsourced for testing to an accredited private crime laboratory.
  • 23-97-4. Mandatory submission and testing requirements for newly collected sexual assault evidence kits.
  • (a) Medical facilities and all other facilities that conduct medical forensic examinations shall notify the appropriate law enforcement agency immediately, and no later than twenty-four (24) hours after the collection of a new sexual assault evidence kit.
  • (b) Local law enforcement agencies shall:
  • (1) Take possession of the kit from medical facilities within three (3) business days of notification;
  • (2) Submit newly collected kits for testing to an accredited public crime laboratory within seven (7) days of taking possession of the kit;
  • (i) Anonymous kits are exempted from this section unless the victim files a report and consents to the testing of their kit. Anonymous kits shall be safely stored by a law enforcement agency in a manner that preserves evidence for a duration of twenty (20) years or the applicable statute of limitations, whichever is greater;
  • (ii) Victims who do not file a report with law enforcement at the time the kit was collected shall not negate their right to report the crime and have their kit tested in the future.
  • (3) Notify the appropriate jurisdiction within seven (7) days of taking possession of a kit outside of their jurisdiction. The appropriate jurisdiction shall take possession of the kit within seven (7) days of notification.
  • (4) Kits associated with a reported crime that is uncharged or unsolved shall be preserved by the law enforcement agency for fifty (50) years or the length of the applicable statute of limitations, whichever is greater.
  • (c) An accredited public crime laboratory shall test all kits within thirty (30) days of receipt from any local law enforcement agency.
  • (1) Testing shall be pursued to develop autosomal DNA profiles that are eligible for entry into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and local DNA databases, with the goal of generating a CODIS-eligible DNA profile. If a laboratory is unable to obtain an autosomal CODIS- eligible DNA profile, the laboratory should evaluate the case to determine if any other DNA-typing results could be used for investigative purposes.
  • (b) Hospitals and state laboratories shall work together to ensure reported kits are transferred from the hospital to the laboratory within ten (10) days of the kit being collected.
  • (1) Anonymous kits and unreported kits are exempted from this section unless the victim files a report and consents to the testing of their kit. Anonymous kits shall be safely stored by the statelaboratoryinamannerthat preservesevidenceforadurationof ten(10)yearsortheapplicable statute of limitations, whichever is greater;
  • (2) Victims who do not file a report with law enforcement at the time the kit was collected shall not negate their right to report the crime and have their kit tested in the future.
  • (3) Kits associated with a reported crime that is uncharged or unsolved shall be preserved by the applicable law enforcement agency for fifty (50) years or the length of the applicable statute of limitations, whichever is greater.
  • (c) Law enforcement shall contact the department of health when a victim of sexual assault files a police complaint. At that point, the department of health shall begin the forensic analysis. An accredited public crime laboratory shall test all kits within thirty (30) days of receipt.
  • (1) Testing shall be pursued to develop autosomal DNA profiles that are eligible for entry into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and local DNA databases, with the goal of generating a CODIS-eligible DNA profile. If a laboratory is unable to obtain an autosomal CODIS- eligible DNA profile, the laboratory shall evaluate the case to determine if any other DNA-typing results could be used for investigative purposes.
  • (2) In cases where testing has resulted in a DNA profile, the laboratory shall enter the full profile into the Combined DNA Index System Database (CODIS) and local DNA databases. The average completion rate for this analysis and classification shall not exceed ninety (90) days.
  • (3) If an accredited public crime laboratory is unable to meet the deadline specified in subsection (c)(2) of this section, untested kits shall be outsourced to an accredited private crime laboratory.
  • 23-97-5. Tracking system for sexual assault evidence kits.
  • (a) Within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this chapter, the department of health shall convene a multidisciplinary task force on the sexual assault evidence kit handling process. The task force shall:
  • (1) Develop recommendations for establishing a statewide electronic kit tracking system;
  • (2) Identify and pursue state and federal funding to establish the tracking system, inclusive of grants;
  • (3) Be comprised of members that include survivors, law enforcement professionals, crime lab personnel, prosecutors, victim advocates, victim attorneys, and sexual assault nurse examiners or sexual assault forensic examiners; and
  • (4) Monitor the tracking system's implementation for at least two (2) years and make recommendations of necessary modifications.
  • (b) The department of health shall implement the recommendations of the task force to adopt and maintain the statewide trackingsystem. The department of health maycontract with state or non-state entities including, but not limited to, private software and technology providers, for the creation, operation, and maintenance of the system. The tracking system shall:
  • (1) Track the status of the kits from the collection site throughout the criminal justice process, including, but not limited, to the initial collection at medical facilities, inventory and storage by the law enforcement agencies or crime lab, analysis at crime laboratories and storage or destruction after completion of analysis;
  • (2) Allow all agencies or facilities that receive, maintain, store, or preserve kits to update the status and location of the kits; and
  • (3) Allow victims to access the system anonymously and receive updates regarding the location and status of their kit.
  • (c) The department of health mayphase-in initial participation accordingto region,volume of kits, or other appropriate classifications.
  • (d) The department of health shall submit a report on the current status and plan for launching the tracking system, including the plan for phased implementation, to the governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, the president of the senate, the office of the attorney general, and the task force no later than January 1, 2023.
  • (e) All entities in the chain of custody of kits shall fully participate in the system no later than one year from the effective date of the tracking system.
  • (f) Participation is mandatory for law enforcement agencies, medical facilities, crime laboratories, and any other facilities that receive, maintain, store, or preserve kits.
  • (g) All previously untested kits shall be entered into the system.
  • 23-97-6. Victims' right to notice.
  • 23-97-5. Victims' rights to notice.
  • (a) All victims of sexual assault shall have the right to:
  • (1) Consult with a sexual assault victim advocate on a confidential and privileged basis. Waiving the right to a victim advocate in one instance does not negate this right. The medical facility, law enforcement officer, or prosecutor shall inform the victim of his or her rights prior to commencement of a medical forensic examination or law enforcement interview, and shall not continue unless such right is knowingly and voluntarily waived;
  • (1) Consult with a sexual assault victim advocate on a confidential and privileged basis during the forensic medical exam, and during any interview with law enforcement, prosecutors, or defense attorneys. Waiving the right to a victim advocate in one instance does not negate this right. The medical facility, law enforcement officer, or prosecutor shall inform the victim of his or her rights prior to commencement of a medical forensic examination or law enforcement interview, and shall not continue unless such right is knowingly and voluntarily waived;
  • (2) Information, upon request, of the location, testing date, and testing results of a kit; whether a DNA profile was obtained from the kit; whether there are matches to DNA profiles in state or federal databases; and the estimated destruction date for the kit, all in a manner of communication designated by the victim;
  • (3) Be informed when there is any change in the status of their case, including if the case has been closed or reopened;
  • (4) Receive written notification, upon request, from the appropriate official with custody of avictim's sexual assault evidencekit not later than sixty(60) days beforethedate of the intended destruction or disposal;
  • (5) Be granted further preservation of the kit or its probative contents;
  • (6) Designate a person of the victim's choosing to act as a recipient of the information provided under this section;
  • (7) Be informed about how to file a report with law enforcement and have their kit tested in the future, if the victim shall decide not to file a report at the time the kit is first collected; and
  • (8) Be informed about the right to apply for victim compensation.
  • (b) The department of health shall ensure that statewide policies and procedures for law enforcement shall beadopted concerningcontact with victims and notification concerningkits.The policies and procedures shall be trauma-informed, survivor-focused, and shall require:
  • (1) Each agency to designate at least one person, who is trained in trauma and victim response, to receive all inquiries concerning kits and to serve as a liaison between the agency and the victim;
  • (2) Victims of sexual assault be provided with the contact information for the designated liaison at the time that a kit is collected; and
  • (3)Inadvanceoratthebeginningofthemedicalforensicexaminationandlawenforcement interview, medical professionals, victim advocates, law enforcement officers, or prosecutors shall provide victims with a written pamphlet of information as designated by the department of health identifying their rights under law, including the rights granted pursuant to this section. This document shall also be made available in English and at least two (2) of the other most commonly spoken languages in the state.
  • (4) Receive written notification, upon request, from the appropriate official with custody of a victim's sexual assault evidence kit not later than sixty (60) days before the date of the intended destruction or disposal;
  • (5) Be granted further preservation of the kit or its probative contents;
  • (6) Designate a person of the victim's choosing to act as a recipient of the information provided under this section;
  • (7) Be informed about how to file a report with law enforcement and have their kit tested in the future, if the victim shall decide not to file a report at the time the kit is first collected;
  • (8) Be informed about the right to apply for victim compensation; and
  • (9) Be provided with the contact information for the designated liaison at the time that a kit is collected.
  • (b) A survivor retains all the rights contained in this chapter at all times, regardless of whether the survivor agrees to participate in any investigation, prosecution, or generally, in the criminal justice system of any court of this state and regardless of whether the survivor consents to a medical evidentiary or physical examination to collect sexual assault forensic evidence.
  • (c)(1) The attorney general, in consultation with the victim service providers and victim advocacy organizations, shall promulgate and publish a sexual assault victim's bill of rights for purposes ofinformingsexual offense victims of their rights under state law. Such bill of rights shall be prominently published on the department of the attorney general's website, in plain, easy to understand language and in at least the ten (10) most common languages spoken in this state, and distributed to hospitals as a document which shall be provided to every presenting sexual offense victim. The department of the attorney general may update the bill of rights as necessary to reflect changes in state law and more accurately explain the law.
  • (2)Inadvanceoratthebeginningofthemedicalforensicexaminationandlawenforcement interview, medical professionals, victim advocates, law enforcement officers, or prosecutors shall provide victims with the bill of rights as created by the attorney general identifying their rights under law, including the rights granted pursuant to this section.
  • (d) The attorney general, in coordination with victim service providers, shall ensure that trauma-informed, survivor-focused, statewide policies and procedures for law enforcement shall be adopted concerning contact with victims and notification concerning kits.
  • SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.
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  • LC003681
  • LC003681/SUB A/2
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  • EXPLANATION
  • BY THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
  • OF
  • A N A C T
  • RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY – SEXUAL ASSAULT EVIDENCE KITS
  • ***
  • Thisact wouldrequireanyentitythat receives, maintains, stores or preservessexual assault evidence kits to submit a report to the department of health, annually, setting forth the total number of untested kits in possession of such entity. This act would further establish a task force to manage the tracking of all sexual assault evidence kits and provide victims of sexual assault offenses with certain rights pertaining to the sexual assault evidence kit.
  • This act would take effect upon passage. ======== LC003681 ========
  • Thisact wouldrequireanyentitythat receives, maintains, stores or preservessexual assault evidence kits to submit a report to the department of health, annually, setting forth the total number ofuntestedkitsinpossessionofsuchentity.Thisact wouldfurtherprovidevictimsofsexualassault offenses with certain rights pertaining to the sexual assault evidence kit. This act would also direct theattorneygeneral, in consultation withvictimadvocacyorganizations,to promulgate andpublish a sexual assault victim's bill or rights.
  • This act would take effect upon passage. ======== LC003681/SUB A/2 ========

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