Bill seeks policies, money for processing rape kits


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With Attorney General Pam Bondi saying thousands of rape kits have gone untested, a House Democrat on Monday filed a bill that seeks new policies and additional money for processing evidence in alleged sexual assault cases.

The bill (HB 167), filed by Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, would require law-enforcement agencies to adopt policies that include trying to ensure that evidence gets processed and returned to agencies within 12 months of alleged sexual assaults.

Also, the bill calls for an additional $1,000 in court costs for people convicted of certain sexual offenses. The money would be used to pay for processing and analyzing medical evidence in investigations of alleged sexual assaults.

"The Legislature intends that all state law enforcement agencies adopt formal policies to ensure that rape kits are promptly submitted and that the funding of the statewide criminal analysis laboratory system be addressed to help ensure that such kits are processed in a timely manner,'' the bill says.

Bondi called a news conference last week to detail the massive backlog of untested rape kits and to call for more funding for crime labs.

Cruz's bill will be considered during the 2016 legislative session, which starts in January.