click to enlarge IDAHO STATE POLICE PHOTO
Idaho State Police photo

Idaho will test all sexual assault evidence kits, with the exception of kits that victims request be collected anonymously, after Gov. Brad Little signed House Bill 116 into law on March 22.

Sponsored by Democratic Rep. Melissa Wintrow, the bill follows on other legislation she helped pass a few years ago that required the state to start tracking the testing status of every rape kit.

The idea behind requiring every kit get tested (with few exceptions) is that more DNA evidence is entered into CODIS (the Combined DNA Index System), which is used by law enforcement across the country, Wintrow noted in a news release. In some cases, entering the DNA from one case can come back with a match to another, helping identify serial offenders and potentially helping investigators identify unknown suspects.

"These are proactive efforts to stop serial offenders and seek justice for survivors," Wintrow says in the statement. "If we are going to ask a victim to endure a long invasive process to collect evidence of a crime, then we should be testing the evidence and not let it collect dust on shelves."

Wintrow also worked with the Idaho Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (ISAKI) to pass legislation in 2018 to ensure that victims don't have to pay for the sexual assault examination kit to be collected. Her news release notes it "was the only crime requiring victims or insurance to cover the costs of criminal justice procedures."

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About The Author

Samantha Wohlfeil covers the environment, rural communities and cultural issues for the Inlander. Since joining the paper in 2017, she's reported how the weeks after getting out of prison can be deadly, how some terminally ill Eastern Washington patients have struggled to access lethal medication, and other sensitive...