A Tennessee Bill Would Allow Sexual Assault Survivors To Track Their Rape Kits

Apr 5, 2021

Credit Stephen Jerkins | WPLN

bill making its way through the Tennessee legislature would give sexual assault survivors the ability to track the location of their rape kits. 

If passed, victims would be able to track when their rape kit is picked up from the hospital by police, when it reaches a lab to be tested and the status of those tests. 

This comes several years after widespread mishandling of sexual assault evidence was discovered in Memphis. In 2014, more than 12,000 rape kits were left untested in Memphis alone.

This backlog has since been resolved, but there’s still room for reform in rape investigations, said Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Nashville.

  

“Allowing that power back to the victim and the survivor hopefully will ensure that we never have a repeat occurrence of that tragedy,” said Freeman. 

Jordan Kimmel says this tracking information is vital to a survivor’s healing process. The Vanderbilt senior was sexually assaulted her first year of college, and her own rape kit was lost for several months.  

“Before I can even think a year in advance, I need to make sure my rape kit is okay,” said Kimmel. 

The measure would also speed up the process of testing rape kits, requiring law enforcement to pick up evidence samples within seven days of being notified. 

Similar rape-kit tracking legislation has passed at least 24 other states. The Tennessee bill has progressed through the committee system with broad bipartisan support, and it will continue to be discussed this week.  

If passed, Kimmel said she believes it could empower the next generation of sexual assault survivors. 

“It would make me feel a lot safer,” said Kimmel. “And I could assimilate back into normal college student and law school life.”