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SAFE responds to new law regarding rape kit backlogs

Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law on Tuesday that he says will provide justice for survivors.

AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 8 into law on Tuesday. 

"We’re here to better address and provide justice for survivors of rape and sexual assault," said Gov. Abbott. "One of the best strategies is the forensic testing of rape kits, but thousands of these kits have languished untested for years."

RELATED: How the rape kit backlog being cleared will impact survivors

Juliana Gonzales, who works for SAFE Alliance, said legislators sent a strong message to survivors this session. 

"By putting this bill into law, the legislators of Texas are saying to sexual assault survivors that what you’ve been through is important and we’re going to do something about it," said Gonzales. "And the fact that you’ve participated in a sexual assault exam and had evidence collected is going to be utilized in pursuing justice and healing for you and the community’s public safety."

RELATED: Governor Abbott signs bills combating human trafficking, eliminating rape kit backlog

HB8 requires an audit of untested kits, establishes timelines for results to be submitted and extends the statute of limitations.

Gonzales said there are two important points to this new law. 

RELATED: Texas lawmakers file 'Lavinia Masters Act' to address rape kit backlog

"What this means for survivors is if it takes longer than that statute of limitations to move through the testing process, which should never happen again thanks to this legislation, then we can expect for that statute of limitations would be tolled," said Gonzales. "In other words, there would be an extension on when they can prosecute the case based on the evidence if it were delayed in testing."

RELATED: Austin police to reopen rape cases after DNA results found in backlog of 900+ untested kits

Abbott said this new law also "adds personnel to ensure that all backlog sexual assault evidence kits are retained and are tested."

WATCH: Some previously backlogged rape kits are past the statute of limitations


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