A Boise lawmaker is continuing to work on improving sexual assault kit protocols.
In the upcoming legislative session, Rep. Melissa Wintrow (D-Boise) plans to introduce a measure that puts in place a statewide standard for how rape kits are processed and how they are billed.
"The state of Idaho is billing victim's private insurance for a forensic exam," Wintrow said. "If you could imagine if your house was broken into and we charged your homeowner's insurance for fingerprinting people, we would not be happy. We would not stand for that so the same thing here."
Wintrow thinks the cost of rape kit exams should be billed directly to the state, so she's looking to find a funding source for that.
"I don't think we ever want to put a victim of a crime who's been traumatized that way in a position to haggle with insurance," she said. "I don't want to worry about forms and processes. I want to be treated with care and dignity."
She is also looking at implementing a statewide standard on how sexual assault kit evidence is collected. The idea is to start a training program so there's access all over the state.
"We've actually applied for a grant to train 250 nurses in our state for the next two years so they can appropriately and properly do the exam," she said. "As well as, doing it in a caring way."
That training, Wintrow says, is crucial especially with Idaho's geography. She wants to make sure these services are accessible to people living in rural areas.
"We're really looking at ways to train nurses throughout the state in regional centers, so folks can have access readily and they don't increase their trauma by having to be shipped off some place for a forensic exam," she said.
In the last two legislative sessions, lawmakers unanimously passed Wintrow's legislation to establish minimum standards for processing sexual assault kits and preserving the evidence. They also created a tracking system so victim's can see where their kit is in the testing process. There's been a lot of support for these efforts, and Wintrow hopes that continues because she says there's still a lot to be done