WRAL Investigation Prompts Bill On DNA Testing For Rape Victims
Posted June 17, 2002
RALEIGH, N.C. — State leaders are responding to a WRAL Investigation on DNA testing for rape victims. One lawmaker has filed legislation on the victims' behalf.
For convicted murderers, state law requires the State Bureau of Investigation to analyze DNA evidence in a case if the convicted murderer requests it. For rape survivors, chances are, the evidence will not be tested because of a lack of resources, according to officials at the SBI crime lab.
Rep. David Miner, R-Wake County, said when he learned that thousands of rape kits containing DNA evidence sit untouched on police department shelves, he decided to act.
"We need to change North Carolina law," he said. "We have people who are victims of this horrible crime, that evidence collected should be tested."
Because of limited resources, the SBI crime lab typically will not analyze DNA evidence unless there is a suspect in the case. Miner's bill would require the lab to test DNA in every rape case if the survivor makes the request.
"Its easy to say 'Let's do it.' It's harder to find a way to do it," North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said.
With that goal, Cooper pointed to a provision in the current Senate budget, that would require people convicted of drug or drunken driving offenses to pay a $100 lab fee as restitution.
"We want to take the funds from those lab fees in order to make sure that we do the job to test those DNA rape kits," Cooper said.
While Miner's bill does not offer any funding ideas, he and Cooper agree that finding a way to analyze the DNA is critical for the sake of justice.
"Anytime you have a crime, you need to utilize all the possible means to solve the crime," Miner said.
The downside of the legislation is its timing, as the state is in the midst of its worst budget crisis.
SBI crime lab technicians want to test every rape kit, but said it takes a lot of money. The lab is already facing budget cuts.
The bill will be introduced in the House on Monday.