New IL laws change hope to positively affect sexual assault vict - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

New IL laws change hope to positively affect sexual assault victims

Source: Raycom Media Source: Raycom Media

Evidence that could convict criminals of sexual assault often sits untested in storerooms for years before being used.

On Friday, August 12, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a series of bills that will help improve how sexual assault victims are treated.

The bills include SB 3096, which creates the Sexual Assault Incident Procedure Act.

The Governor said this bill will provide sexual assault victims with stricter protections during the evidence collection process and ensure transfer of evidence from the hospital to law enforcement agencies in a timely manner.

It also alters the state procurement code, allowing the state to hire forensic analysts faster.

“As a state, we must do everything within our power to ensure victims are supported and that their aggressors are quickly brought to justice,” said Rauner. “We stand with the victims of these malicious crimes. This bill strengthens the policy behind evidence collection and gives the state tools to speed up the testing process to ensure victims have the ability to hold their aggressors accountable and get the justice they deserve.”

SB 3096 also implements training standards and guidelines for 9-1-1 operators and police to handle sexual assault cases, requires hospitals to provide instructions on how to help survivors give consent for their rape test kit to be tested, and specifies that hospitals must notify law enforcement agencies that they have collected a rape test kit within a 4 hour period and the law enforcement agency must take possession of the kit within 10 days.

If possession does not take place within that time period, the state now charges the hospital with contacting the appropriate State's Attorney's Office.

Carbondale Women’s Center Rape Services Coordinator Teresa Eubanks says under former statutes, first responders weren’t always required to go through training on how to effectively employ what she called a “victim centered” response.

“The way that person is treated after something like that happens has a lasting effect on that person’s recovery.” Eubanks said.

The changes also allow victims to request the status of their test kit.

Another bill signed Friday is Senate Bill 2861; which establishes a new Illinois Code of Military Justice that gives the Illinois National Guard state court martial authority that is similar to the federal Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Unless mobilized into federal service, Illinois National Guard Soldiers and Airmen remain under the control of the state and the Governor serves as their Commander-in-Chief. Discipline of National Guard service members and military justice are under the exclusive jurisdiction of the state.

"This bill allows us to pursue military justice and ensure good order and discipline within our formations when civilian authorities elect not to pursue civilian charges," said Maj. Gen. Richard J. Hayes, The Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. "The need for this bill became very apparent as we battled military sexual assault."

The new law will allow the Illinois National Guard to bring charges against the service member before a court martial.

If convicted of certain offenses before a court martial, the Illinois National service member could face up to 10 years in state prison.

Governor Rauner also signed HB4036 which extends the coverage of the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act to victims of domestic or sexual violence to smaller companies across the state.

The bill grants employees working for an employer that employs at least 50 employees a right for leave of up to 12 workweeks, employees working for an employer that employs at least 15 but not more than 49 employees up to eight workweeks, and employees working for an employer that employs one but not more than 14 employees up to four workweeks of leave.

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