House OKs Jones bills to help ensure justice for rape victims

LANSING—Comprehensive measures sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to support victims of sexual assault were approved on Thursday by the Michigan House of Representatives.

“After months of hard work, Michigan is taking a critical step toward ensuring justice for survivors of sexual assault throughout our state,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “This effort came about after more than 11,000 rape kits were discovered – untested – in a Detroit warehouse. I was proud to join a bipartisan team of lawmakers to help prevent such a catastrophe from reoccurring in the future.

“As a father and former sheriff, I want to thank the House for quickly passing this legislation, and I look forward to seeing it signed by the governor. It’s about more than getting rape kits analyzed; it’s about standing up for and seeking justice on behalf of brave victims who come forward after an assault.”

Senate Bill 998, sponsored by Jones, would create a commission consisting of high-level state officials and victim’s rights organization members who are experts in this matter and will place a high priority on the wellbeing of victims throughout the process. The commission would be tasked with establishing a system to track, audit and fund the submission of all released sexual assault evidence kits.

Jones’ other bill, SB 1036, would, upon the victim’s request, require medical testing for venereal disease, hepatitis B and C, and HIV within 48 hours of indictment of an offender for criminal sexual conduct.

Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Detroit, and Rep. John Walsh, R-Livonia, sponsored bills to require law enforcement agencies to inform victims of the availability of sexual assault evidence kits and set timelines concerning the kits from the time a health care facility obtaining consent to release an evidence kit to the time it must be analyzed.

Walsh’s bill was signed by the governor in July and is now Public Act 227 of 2014. Johnson’s bills, SBs 1004 and 1021, were approved by the House on Thursday along with Jones’ bills.