(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today praised members of the Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate for passing legislation to ensure the creation of the Ohio Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Kit Tracking System.
Last night, legislators in both the Ohio House and Senate passed Senate Bill 201, which was amended to include legislation to establish the system.
The legislation, which was sponsored by State Senator Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) and State Representative Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville), requires all agencies involved in the chain-of-custody of sexual assault kits to participate in the tracking program.
The legislation will now move on to Governor John Kasich for his signature.
Attorney General DeWine announced plans for the Sexual Assault Kit Tracking System in August. The statewide system will increase transparency surrounding the collection, submission, and analysis of sexual assault kit evidence in Ohio.
“The passage of this legislation is a victory for sexual assault survivors in Ohio,” said Attorney General DeWine. “Survivors who have endured a sexual assault kit examination will no longer have to fear that their evidence will be ignored or forgotten. This system will empower survivors, increase transparency, and help ensure that every single rape kit in this state is submitted to a crime lab for DNA analysis. I sincerely appreciate the work of Senator Kunze and Representative Pelanda for their work on this very important legislation.”
By entering a barcode number into the free, online program, survivors who choose to use the system will be able to privately and anonymously follow the status of their evidence as it proceeds from collection at a medical facility, to inventory at a law enforcement agency, to analysis at a crime lab, and to storage or destruction.
Attorney General DeWine also created an advisory group that is currently working to consider best practices and provide advice on the development of the system.
The program, as well as any maintenance and equipment, will be financed through Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) funding. VOCA funds, which are administered by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, are from federal settlements, fines, and fees and must be used to enhance victim rights and services.
Throughout his career, Attorney General DeWine has been an advocate for victims of crime in Ohio. After taking office in 2011, he launched the Ohio Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Testing Initiative, which resulted in the testing of nearly 14,000 old rape kits that investigators had never sent to a crime lab for DNA analysis.
To date, DNA testing conducted as part of Attorney General DeWine’s SAK Testing Initiative has led to more than 5,100 hits in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), and hundreds of attackers have been prosecuted. In response to the success of the initiative, new law was enacted in 2015 requiring that law enforcement agencies in Ohio submit sexual assault kit evidence to a crime laboratory within 30 days.