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Burgess Bill to Codify Procedure Modifying Current Rape Kit Tracking System Advances


TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Renee Burgess that would require the Attorney General to establish a sexual assault forensic evidence (SAFE) kit, commonly referred to as a rape kit tracking system, was released by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

Under the bill, the Attorney General would establish a SAFE kit tracking system, as well as issue guidelines or a directive establishing the system.

The bill would define “sexual assault forensic evidence kit tracking system” to mean an Internet-based system that allows a person, including: a victim; a State, county, or municipal law enforcement officer; an employee of a healthcare facility or laboratory, as deemed appropriate by the Attorney General.

“When it comes to a rape or sexual assault, the gathering and preservation of physical evidence is of paramount importance,” said Senator Burgess (D-Essex/Union). “This legislation will implement best practice procedures, and universal standards for law enforcement and health care workers to follow in the investigation of sexual attacks.”

In March of 2023, the Attorney General issued a statewide law enforcement directive to modify and build upon existing standards, which have been promulgated by the Office of the Attorney General, in the areas of collection, tracking, storage, testing, retention, and destruction of evidence and information gathered in the aftermath of an act of sexual assault victimization.

The legislation’s intent would be to codify existing procedure for modifying the current rape kit tracking system. The new standards would seek to protect the rights of victims and enhance the potential to prosecute offenders.

The bill, S-715, was released from Committee by a vote of 5-0.