West Virginia House passes rape kit testing, collection bill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia may soon require the speedy testing and collection of rape kits under a bill passed by the West Virginia House of Delegates on Friday.

Lawmakers approved the proposal by a unanimous vote of 96-0 without debate. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.

The bill comes during a national push to clear backlogs of the kits. More than 20 states have approved bills to require submission guidelines or kit audits in the last two years, according to the advocacy group End The Backlog.

The measure would require the kits to be submitted to the state police’s forensic lab within 30 days or as soon as possible after collection. It would also allow for the creation of a tracking process of the kits and would require a court order before law enforcement could dispose of the examinations.

In West Virginia, state officials launched an initiative in 2015 to start testing its nearly 2,400 shelved rape kits. Some of the kits dated back to the 1980s.

On Friday, a spokesman for the state’s department of military affairs and public safety said there are now about 130 sexual assault kits awaiting testing. The initiative has resulted in 166 matches to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, a database for linking crimes.

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