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North Dakota Senate approves rape kit tracking system

North Dakota Senate approves rape kit tracking system

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North Dakota's Senate on Friday unanimously passed a bill providing for a statewide tracking system for sexual assault examination kits.

Senate Bill 2281 now goes to the House. The bill uses $255,000 of a three-year $442,908 federal grant to fund a part-time administrative assistant, tracking software, bar codes and bar code labels for all sexual assault exam kits.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem told the Senate Human Services Committee on Tuesday that without a tracking system, it's difficult to know whether kits are lost, destroyed or cannibalized to augment another kit.

His office surveyed police agencies and tallied 488 kits that had not been submitted to the State Crime Lab "for one reason or another." The kits are in the process of being sent to the lab for prioritization.

A person who is examined must consent to their kit being submitted to the lab for processing. Kits are held in the local law enforcement agency's evidence storage until the person consents. After seven years, when the kits can no longer be used for prosecution, the law allows for them to be disposed of or submitted to the lab for the DNA to be uploaded to an FBI database.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-223-8482 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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