Bill to prevent future rape kit delays OK’d by House panel

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Crime Lab Rape Kits (Photo: Hannah Patrick/WWAY)

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — New processes to test thousands of sexual assault kits held by local North Carolina law enforcement agencies are advancing in the House.

A bill approved by the House judiciary committee on Monday seeks to prevent future backlogs of sometimes-forgotten rape kits held in police storage lockers around the state.

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The measure directs police and sheriff departments starting this summer to submit new, completed kits for testing to the State Crime Lab, an approved third-party lab or the Department of Public Safety within 45 days of receiving them. It also directs local law enforcement to create panels that review sexual assault kits and prioritize which should be tested first.

The House budget is expected to contain $3 million to help pay for outside lab testing of the outstanding kits.