The Alabama House of Representatives is expected to consider the Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights when it goes into session at 1 p.m. on Tuesday. The Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights is House Bill 137.
“Sexual assault is a traumatic and life-changing experience, and its survivors often have to deal with interminable delays, unanswered questions, and feelings of being lost in the legal system as their cases are being resolved,” said state Rep. Chip Brown, R-Hollinger’s Island, the sponsor of HB137. “Basic human morals demand that we guarantee specific rights and services to survivors of sexual assault in order to ensure they will be afforded the respect, attention, and timely information that they deserve.”
Under the provisions of Brown’s legislation, individuals who report they suffered non-consensual sexual acts must be informed in writing that they qualify for the “Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights” and are afforded the following under state law as introduced:
- To not be prevented or charged for receiving a medical forensic examination
- To have the sexual assault evidence collection kit preserved without charge for at least 20 years or, if the assault occurred while a minor, until age 40
- To be informed by law enforcement of test results, such as DNA profile matches, from the examination kit if such information does not comprise or impede an investigation
- To receive notification from a law enforcement agency at least 60 days before a sexual assault evidence kit is disposed of or destroyed
- To be granted preservation of an evidence kit for an additional 20 years if the survivor requests.
The legislation also requires the Alabama attorney general to create written notification, which will be distributed by law enforcement agencies, that notifies sexual abuse survivors of the aforementioned rights and provides information about:
- The availability and information of a sexual assault advocate
- The availability of protection orders and the process of securing them
- The policies regarding the preservation, storage, and disposal of a sexual assault evidence kit
- The process to request test results from an evidence kit or request its preservation
- The availability of state or federal compensation funds to cover medical costs, costs related to the case, or victim compensation and restitution payments.
Another provision within the measure instructs the attorney general to create a Sexual Assault Task Force, which will be comprised of law enforcement representatives, elected officials, victims’ advocates, medical professionals and others.
The panel will be responsible for developing and implementing best practices regarding the care and treatment of sexual assault survivors and the preservation of evidence kits. The task force will be required to consult with various stakeholder groups and individuals and must issue its final report and findings within two years of the enactment of Brown’s legislation.
The bill was heavily amended in the House Judiciary Committee by Rep. Matt Simpson, R-Daphne. Simpson said that his changes were recommended by the Alabama Attorney General’s office.
Eighteen different bills are on Tuesday’s proposed House special order calendar. Other bills on the special order calendar include House Bill 131 — a constitutional amendment known as Aniah’s Law — and House Bill 130, its enabling legislation, which expands the offenses for which a judge can deny bail to a defendant. Aniah’s Law is also sponsored by Brown.
The 15 other bills on the proposed special order calendar include:
- House Bill 187 by Rep. Terri Collins including purchases through cooperative purchasing agreements and lease agreements in the state bid law.
- House Bill 191 by Collins dealing with annexations in overlapping police jurisdictions.
- House Bill 338 by Rep. Tracy Estes the Building Exceptional School Board Team Act dealing with school board training.
- House Bill 73 by Rep. Jim Hill requiring that all Judicial Circuits have a Community Corrections alternative to prison
- House Bill 162 by Rep. Kyle South dealing with lease taxes.
- House Bill 23 by Hill allowing judges who sentenced someone more harshly than the 2014 sentencing guidelines the opportunity to resentence that individual.
- House Bill 99 by Rep. Jeremy Grey dealing with electric bicycles and motor vehicles.
- House Bill 110 by Hill requiring the Alabama Department of Corrections to reimburse counties for having to house parole violators in their jails.
- House Bill 77 by Rep. Ritchie Whorton imposing a $1 fee on firefighter license plates for the Alabama Joint Fire Council and the Alabama Fire College.
- House Bill 208 by Rep. Pebblin Warren requiring that children must complete kindergarten before being admitted to first grade.
- House Bill 76 by Rep. Thomas Jackson dealing with how schools deal with epileptic seizures.
- House Bill 143 by Rep. Joe Lovvorn instructing the Emergency Management Agency to adopt guidelines for identifying and designating safer place shelters throughout the state.
- House Bill 335 by Rep. Alan Baker dealing with revising how solid waste disposal contracts are dong.
- House Bill 201 by Hill allowing tax sale auctions to be held online or at locations other than the courthouse steps.
- House Bill 210 by Rep. Mike Lee requiring that hospitals submit hospital discharge data to the Alabama Department of Public Health.
The House of Representatives is expected to come in at 1 p.m. and the Senate at 2 p.m. on Tuesday. The Senate has not released a proposed special order calendar.