NASHVILLE, Tenn., October 17, 2014 – Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) will speak to a multi-city summit on Monday, October 20 regarding governmental efforts to end the rape kit backlog in pursuit of justice for victims and survivors. The 2014 Sexual Assault Kit Summit, hosted by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, will be held in Cleveland, Ohio.
Mayor A.C. Wharton will also participate in a panel discussion to share information regarding the City of Memphis’ recent efforts to alleviate the backlog.
“I am very pleased to see cities coming together to share information about what is working and how we can overcome the challenges faced to get these kits tested,” said Sen. Norris. “DNA evidence has revolutionized the way we apprehend and prosecute rape cases, with the courts recognizing the validity of these tests. We have made major steps in the right direction over the past year so justice can be served, but we have much more work to do. This summit is very helpful in exchanging information so that we can be successful in prosecuting the perpetrators of this heinous crime.”
Norris sponsored major legislation this year requiring all law enforcement agencies or departments charged with the maintenance, storage, and preservation of sexual assault kits to generate a report to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation based on that inventory by July 1, 2014. That report showed 44 police agencies in Tennessee had a combined total of 9,062 untested rape kits statewide.
He also passed major legislation this year to repeal the statute of limitations for rape, aggravated rape, rape of a child and aggravated rape of a child, as long as law enforcement or the district attorney general has been notified within three years of the offense. The new law pertains to acts committed on or after July 1, 2014 or offenses committed prior to that date, as long as the statute of limitations has not expired.
“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 a very effective tool in getting these criminals off the streets.”