Thursday, June 02, 2011

Bills encourage testing, proper retention of rape kits and other biological evidence

I noticed a couple of recent stories about SB 1636 by Sen.Wendy Davis requiring data collection and reporting on untested rape kits and testing as many as possible, resources permitting. (See here and here.) Another bill, SB 1616 by Sen. Royce West, would create new standards for preservation of biological evidence via DPS rules. Both passed during the regular legislative session and have been sent to the Governor. Between the two bills and ongoing federally funded research on rape kit backlogs in Houston, perhaps over time fewer rape kits and other biological evidence will be lost or go untested. Readers will recall that the main reason so many DNA exonerations have come out of Dallas is that they were one of the few jurisdictions to actually keep old DNA evidence.

Speaking of which, I also noticed this recent video from the Tyler Telegraph of the Smith County Sheriff's Office evidence room, where toward the end we see stacks of unrefrigerated rape kits and DNA samples kept in a shabby looking storage room. One imagines (or at least hopes) they may need to upgrade their methods of storing biological evidence once new research and rulemaking can definitively establish best practices on the subject.

See related Grits posts:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Come on, there's no need for Smith County to follow best practices. Any exculpatory evidence will never be disclosed so why bother to store it properly. If there is any evidence that is helpful to the defense they will hide and/or dstroy it. That's standard practice for Smith County. For example, the missing video interviews of the alleged victims in the Mineola Swingers Club cases were never found, were they?