Bill would allow assault victims to receive updates on status of rape kit testing

FILE - North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein speaks in favor of protecting abortion access during a news conference at the North Carolina Department of Justice in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. The campaign committee for Stein, desperate to dodge possible criminal prosecution in a libel investigation into its political ads, asked a federal appeals court Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, to immediately block enforcement of a seldom used libel law before the Wake County district attorney impanels a grand jury. (AP Photo/Hannah Schoenbaum, File)

RALEIGH — A bill filed in the North Carolina Senate would require rape victims to be allowed to elect whether or not they want to receive updates on the status of their rape kit test. 

Senate Bill 509, titled Victims’ Right To Know/Rape Kit Status, was filed by Sens. Kandie Smith (D-Pitt) and Natalie Murdock (D-Durham).  

The bill would enact the “Victims Right to Know Act,” creating a process where a victim of rape can request notifications and updates from the N.C. State Crime Lab on the status of a sexual assault kit. 

The bill does not require reporting to the NCGA of aggregate numbers of those electing to be notified. 

In 2017, North Carolina was cited as having the largest untested rape kit backlog in the nation. While some progress has been made in clearing some of the tests, as of March 2023 the backlog inventory stood at 16,223 per the N.C. Department of Justice’s (NCDOJ) data dashboard. 

The dashboard, which claims to perform real-time updates, listed 8,918 kits as having been tested, leaving 7,305 still in the inventory backlog as of March 6, 2023. The NCDOJ’s dashboard also listed 11,128 kits that have been “submitted” as of that date.

About A.P. Dillon 971 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_