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Thursday, July 1, 2021

Florida passes law creating tracking system for sexual assault kits

Posted By on Thu, Jul 1, 2021 at 11:57 AM

click to enlarge Gail's Law creates a tracking system for all sample kits taken from sexual assault victims and a system through which victims can check the status of tests. - ADOBE
  • Adobe
  • Gail's Law creates a tracking system for all sample kits taken from sexual assault victims and a system through which victims can check the status of tests.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed "Gail's Law," legislation that would create a tracking system for sexual assault kits and a framework through which survivors can check on the status of tested and untested kits.

The bill was named for Gail Gardner, an Orlando area woman who was assaulted in 1988 and waited more than 30 years for samples taken by forensic examiners to be tested. Several decades after Gardner was assaulted at knifepoint by a man who broke into her home, the long-delayed testing found that the perpetrator was already in prison on a litany of other assault charges.

The act was pushed in the Florida legislature by Orlando State Senator Linda Stewart, who celebrated its passage in a statement.

“I’m so proud to see Gail’s Law signed and become law, as this will empower survivors and lead to perpetrators being apprehended more quickly,” said Senator Stewart. “After suffering through an assault, many survivors feel powerless in a system that can be overwhelming, confusing, and often fails to provide the appropriate support. Gail’s Law would bring accountability and transparency to the process – placing the power back in the hands of survivors.”

Gardner herself also hoped that the law would keep future Floridians from dealing with the decades of uncertainty she faced.

“I waited 32 fear and anxiety-filled years to hear anything about my kit and my case, and I know others are experiencing that tragedy right now. My heart aches for them," she said in a statement. "Gail’s Law will help fix the problem and bring some healing to survivors who deserve no less. Now, I’m satisfied but let’s look forward to the day when a Rape Kit Tracking System will no longer be needed.”

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