BOISE - A new bill that would set standards for how long rape kits should be kept as evidence unanimously passed the Idaho House Monday.
Rep. Melissa Wintrow (D-Boise) is the lawmaker behind the legislation.
"This year, we realized Idaho is one of only seven states in the country that doesn't have any standards at all in the preservation of evidence," she said.
The bill would require law enforcement agencies across the state to keep sexual assault kits for 55 years. Wintrow said it’s important to have that evidence preserved long enough for victims to come forward after experiencing such trauma.
"It looks at how long do we preserve that evidence so we can hold more perpetrators accountable, support our victims, support our law enforcement who are looking for consistent standards, and if we have that evidence we might exonerate somebody who is truly innocent," she said.
Wintrow also spearheaded last year’s legislation that created a statewide system of collecting and tracking rape kits. Before that became law, law enforcement agencies were in charge of deciding if a kit should be sent for DNA testing. Now, the law guarantees medical clinics that collect the kits will send that evidence for DNA testing unless the victim says otherwise.
"It really provides for a great opportunity for transparency and understanding. In case there is a concern we can address it and see where the problems lie and how do we support and solve that," Wintrow said.
The measure now goes to the Senate for approval.
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