ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — New legislation could prohibit DNA obtained from rape kits from being added to the states DNA identification index or criminal database systems. The bill was created after a San Francisco woman’s DNA from her rape kit was used to arrest her for an unrelated crime. If enacted, the bill would give state agencies 90 days to remove DNA from rape kits from criminal database systems.
“This is really about making certain that DNA is securely held and isn’t used for cross purposes in criminal prosecutions. The last thing we wanna do is turn those victims into defendants,” said New York State Senator and key sponsor of the bill, Brad Hoylman. He says the DNA will be kept in a separate database that follows rape prosecutions. “We want the DNA segregated so the evidence isn’t used against a victim and that victims are encouraged to come forward and to provide DNA in cases of sexual assault,” he said.
Amanda Rue, founder of The Shift Workshop echoed that same sentiment. “We want survivors to be speaking out and be speaking up so that people can be held accountable for this behavior so this is really about safeguarding the victim and removing as many barriers as possible to help them speak out and seek justice,” said Rue. She said this could also help survivors in lower income or black and brown communities, “The criminal justice system is not as favorable – we know oftentimes – to black and brown people as well.”
There’s also legislation to implement a statewide tracking system for survivors to track their rape kits, which awaits the governor’s signature.