COLUMBIA, SC (WCBD)- Since last year South Carolina lawmakers have been proposing strong legislation to better protect victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Now a bill that passed in the SC House to track sexual assault kits is heading to the SC Senate.
“In South Carolina right now we don’t have any requirement that rape kits be tested at all,” explained Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell.
Powers Norrell joined several other lawmakers in cosponsoring the bill to create a rape kit tracking system.
The proposal filed by Orangeburg lawmaker Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter requires tracking from the time the rape kit is administered to a victim to the time it’s tested in a lab.
Rep. Powers Norrell continued, “If the kit is not being tested they can ask questions. If the kit has been destroyed, they can ask about that but they can also advocate for themselves.”
Representative Seth Rose also cosponsored the legislation. “Right now there is no accountability as to where the sample is, whose hands it’s in, if the testing is taking place at all.”
The bill will also compile much-needed data; keeping count of the number of kits tested and those waiting to be tested.
“We really don’t know how many are not being tested because we don’t have a requirement of accountability,” added Powers Norrell.
Rep. Rose outlined some of the consequences of kits not being tested. “When we have samples that aren’t being tested in a timely fashion that’s more time a perpetrator can be out there committing more violent crimes.”
The bill passed unanimously in the House and most recently in the full Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill will now head to the full Senate.