On Oct. 14, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 195–0 to pass House Bill 2489, also known as the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry in PA (SAFER PA), which was introduced by Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-170th dist.).
If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the measure would require timely testing of DNA evidence kits and that backlogged and untested evidence be reported to the state. It would also require that authorities notify victims or surviving family when DNA testing has been completed.
“Nationwide, there are at least 400,000 backlogged and untested rape kits of which we know,” Boyle said. “Many states including Pennsylvania have no reporting requirements, meaning the true extent of this backlog is unknown. Every untested kit represents a horrible injustice to the victim, a victim who may be lacking the closure that would come with solving their case. Once signed into law, this bill will change that.”
The measure would help law enforcement agencies link related sexual assault cases (those committed by the same perpetrator) through DNA evidence while giving forensic labs access to increased federal funding under the Debbie Smith Act to clear any backlog of untested rape kits. ••