RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) – New legislation proposed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers and spearheaded by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein would provide millions of dollars to process previously untested rape kits and seek to prevent kits from ever sitting untested again.
The legislation, officially named the Survivor Act, comes a year after a report found 15,000 untested rape kits across the state.
Many of the kits are decades old, meaning someone went through the experience of having a rape kit done—which is an invasive process where physical evidence is collected from a person’s body—but the evidence was never processed.
In an interview, Stein said roughly 800 of the old rape kits have already been tested and resulted in 87 matches in the national DNA database used to help process evidence from rape kits.
“Every one of those 15,000 kits represents an individual who experienced heinous crime and we have to do everything in our power to try to get that person justice,” Stein said.
The legislation would allocate $6 million to process previously untested kits. It would also require law enforcement agencies to submit new rape kits for processing within 45 days of being collected.
“We’re setting up procedures and we’re mandating you can’t let them sit,” State Representative Mary Belk (D-Mecklenburg), a co-sponsor of the bill in the House, told WBTV.
Belk, a democrat, is among a bipartisan group of lawmakers sponsoring the legislation. Republicans Senator Warren Daniel (Burke) and Representative Jamie Boles (Moore) are the lead sponsors of the legislation in their respective chambers.
“We had a lot of people across the state come together, they figured out the procedures to moving forward so we never have this type of untested—this number of untested kits again,” Belk said.
The bill will be among hundreds of new legislative proposals filed as the General Assembly’s long session begins in earnest.
It is not yet clear what the timeline is the legislation to be considered in either chamber.