CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — A bill that would work to increase transparency regarding the status of rape kits is heading to Governor Tom Wolf’s desk.
House Bill 2032, the Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection Act, would require state police work with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape to study what it will take to implement an online rape kit tracking system that’s managed by police and accessible to sexual assault victims and their medical providers.
“We want to be able to have a system where we can give an assurance to a survivor that they know where their kit is,” Jim Willshier, chief public affairs officer for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape said.
In 2016, almost 2,000 kits were backlogged, meaning they were awaiting testing for a year or longer.
At the end of 2020, that number significantly dropped to just 153 kits. That includes seven from Jefferson County, three each from Centre and Somerset, two from Cambria, and one from Blair.
A goal is to reduce those waiting periods and be transparent.
“For community safety, it’s not something you can put a price tag on,” Willshier said. “I think it’s gonna be very, very affordable and very efficient in the long run.”
The bill unanimously passed in the House.
“The bill and the concept as been discussed has always had bipartisan support,” Willshier said. “I think everyone realizes the importance of this and supports survivors.”
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While an amendment in the Senate looked to skip the study and get right to implementing a tracking system, it was ultimately voted to complete the study first.
If signed by Governor Wolf, state police will complete their study and provide their report within a year.