Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce will ensure that rape evidence is being handled expeditiously with her bill (A5031) calling for an audit of untested sex assault exam kits by the attorney general. The measure cleared the Law & Public Safety Committee today with a 9-0 vote.
“We don’t want rape suspects running around free to strike again while DNA tests that could lock them in prison are sitting in a box somewhere,” said DeCroce (R-Morris). “This is a serious problem in dozens of other states. We need to make sure New Jersey is not part of the problem.”
CBS News investigations determined testing delays are a chronic problem in cities across the country. In 2015, CBS found the testing of at least 9,000 rape kits had been stalled in only a few major cities, including 3,000 in San Diego and 2,000 in Jacksonville and Portland.
“For victims, these delays are ‘justice denied.’ Rapists are often repeat offenders, and the failure to process critical DNA evidence puts more women in danger,” said DeCroce. “How many tests are sitting around and have not been sent to labs in New Jersey? We need to confirm the process is working here.”
The bill requires law enforcement agencies to complete a survey within 30 days and return it to the attorney general, who has another 30 days to summarize the data and report the findings to the Legislature.