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Rape Kits Testing, Adoption Changes Among Bills Gov. Scott Signed Into Law

MGN Online

Governor Rick Scott has signed a number of measures into law, including one aimed at helping address Florida’s backlog of untested rape kits. It’s a major priority for Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Rape Kits Testing Bill

Of Florida’s 13,000 untested rape kits or DNA evidence linked to a sexual assault, about 9,400 are recommended for testing. And, Bondi says she’s glad the Governor signed the bill to help make sure that occurs.

“And, we are determined to have every one of those tested,” she said. “They tested a handful, and already solved an unsolved rape. How cool is that?”

The bill by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto (R-Fort Myers) would ensure the evidence has to be submitted within 30 days and tested within 120 days.

“The [Florida] Department [of Law Enforcement] is running about 114 days on average of testing the kits now,” she said. “That doesn’t account for what they have to do now for the backlog. So, we felt the 120 days was very reasonable.”

To further help address the backlog, Governor Scott and Bondi are hailing a decision by lawmakers to include millions of dollars in the budget for the state’s crime labs.

Other Bills

The second week of February will now also be designated as “Foster Family Appreciation Week.” Sen. Nancy Detert (R-Venice) authored the measure, brought to her by foster advocates. That includes Guardian ad Litem, Florida Youth Shine, and Children's First.

“By this designation, we recognize the invaluable role that foster families that provide to children in their care,” she said. “We also hope that this will increase awareness about the love and support that foster families provide to children and it will encourage others to open their hearts and their homes and it will encourage others to consider opening their hearts and their homes and becoming foster families as well.”

Scott signed another bill by Detert that makes changes to Florida’s adoption laws. It gives a judge the discretion to consider what’s in the best interests of the child, when determining that child’s placement. Another bill signed into law creates a needle exchange pilot program for drug users. Both take effect July 1st.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.