Norris to Speak at Multi-City Summit Grappling with Rape Kit Backlogs

Norris scheduled to testify on juvenile justice at Senate Judiciary Committee meeting

For Immediate Release: October 16, 2015 Contact: Darlene Schlicher (615) 741-6336

NASHVILLE – Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) will speak at the second annual Sexual Assault Kit Summit in Memphis on Monday, October 19. He will address a gathering of law enforcement and other officials from across the U.S. regarding progress in processing sexual assault kit evidence in communities with backlogs.

The 2015 Sexual Assault Kit Summit is hosted by the Memphis Sexual Assault Task Force. The first summit, in which Norris also participated, was held in Cleveland, Ohio last year.

“I am pleased to see us coming together again to share information about our progress and what can be done better going forward” said Sen. Norris.

“DNA evidence has revolutionized the way we apprehend and prosecute not only rape cases but many crimes. We have made major progress in the last two years so justice can be served, but we have much more work to do.”

Norris was instrumental in securing recent grant funding for the State of Tennessee and City of Memphis to reduce the number of untested kits in Tennessee. He sponsored major legislation in 2014 to require all local law enforcement agencies to inventory back-logged rape kits across the state. He also sponsored legislation this year establishing procedures for the collection and storage of rape kits and requiring law enforcement agencies to submit kits to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) for testing within 60 days. That law also directs the Domestic Violence State Coordinating Council to develop a model policy for law enforcement agencies to respond to reports of sexual assault and requires law enforcement agencies to adopt a written policy on responding to reports of sexual assaults.

“DNA evidence is not only helpful in identifying perpetrators in unsolved cases, but also prevents future assaults by prosecuting rapists early in their criminal careers,” Norris added. “It is very effective in getting these criminals off the streets.”

Norris will also provide testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday regarding juvenile justice. As Chairman of the Council of State Governments, he initiated a first-of-its-kind study that drew an unprecedented dataset of 1.3 million individual case records spanning eight years, showing youth incarcerated in state-run facilities are 21 percent more likely to be rearrested than those that remain under supervision closer to home. Norris will be talking about the study and what Tennessee can do to reduce recidivism among juvenile offenders.


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