A new bill passed by the Utah legislature calls for the implementation of an online system allowing survivors of sexual assault to track the status of their sexual assault kits.
The 2018 House Bill 200 mandates an online tracking system for survivors of sexual assault to refer to during their case.
“This tracking system really meets the client and honors that experience and communicates, ‘We believe you and we’re doing everything in our power to make the system better for everyone,’” said Katherine Aguilera, director of advocacy at Utah's Rape Recovery Center.
Angela Romero is the primary sponsor of the bill in Utah’s House of Representatives. The bill allocates $1.2 million of their original $2.4 million funding proposal.
"The biggest issue for people was cost, but for me, the cost wasn’t an issue," she said. "We fund lots of things and if we can fund lobbyists to talk about wild horses we can invest money into our crime lab to ensure that anyone who is sexually assaulted and goes through that process will get results.”
Aguilera says the online kit tracking may empower survivors from the time evidence is collected to the time of conviction.
“Those timelines are so important because it communicates transparency and accountability," she said. "For survivors, it communicates a response from the community that is trauma informed. That we care. We care enough to track this and be transparent with you and give back the power so that you can track it whenever you’re wondering what’s going on with your kit.”
The bill also calls for 30-day kit processing and mandatory sensitivity training of law enforcement.
“What is consistently a barrier is that many different law enforcement agencies always have the best interest of survivors at heart, but what is lacking is a unified process," Aguilera said. "Sometimes we lose sight of that unified process because certain cities and counties have different needs as opposed to other counties and cities. Gaps in service stem from a lack of a unified process."
Potential future amendments could include additional funding for Utah crime labs and development of public curriculum on consent and healthy relationships.