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Senator Seeks Faster DNA Analysis In Sexual Assaults

National Institute of Health
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, filed a proposal Monday that could help speed up lab testing of evidence in suspected sexual-assault cases.

Benacquisto's bill (SB 636), which will be considered during the 2016 legislative session, followed a news conference last month in which Attorney General Pam Bondi detailed a massive backlog of untested rape kits across the state.

Three other lawmakers also have filed bills (HB 167, HB 179 and SB 368) seeking to address the issue.

Under Benacquisto's bill, DNA evidence collected in sexual-assault investigations would have to be submitted to the state crime-lab system for testing within 21 days of being received by law-enforcement agencies.

Also, victims, their parents or personal representatives could request the DNA evidence be turned over sooner. Also, the bill would require the Florida Department of Law Enforcement by Oct. 1, 2016, to submit a plan for analyzing untested evidence currently held in the lab system.

That evidence would have to be tested by June 30, 2017.