Former sheriff pushes bill in NC House to clear rape kit backlog
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Sexual assault evidence collection kits are not required for survivors who want to press charges against their alleged assailants.
But Rep. Carson Smith (R-Pender County) says that they are a “tremendous tool.” A tool that just recently the state learned was being underutilized and left on the shelf.
“If we test all these kits we are going to solve some cases that have been open for a while,” Smith, who served as Pender County sheriff before heading to Raleigh, said. “The past few years it became evident that there was an extremely high amount of untested sexual assault kits in the state about a year and a half-two years ago. the state did an inventory and found out there were about 15,000, and that got a lot of people’s attention.”
Rep. Smith is now working on his first piece of legislation— a bill to make sure that all collection kits are tested.
The bill would do two things. It would create a system for sending the kits that are currently in law enforcement custody to private testing labs, and ensure that every collection kit from here on out is submitted for testing in a timely fashion.
The bill was filed just a over a week ago, and Smith says he has “a feeling we’re gonna have a lot of bipartisan support for this bill.”