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Rape kit tracking bill moving to House Finance Committee

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    NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WSMV) — A sexual assault kit bill that’s making its way through the state capitol aims to help sexual assault victims in Tennessee track the status of their rape kits.

The bill allows for law enforcement and victims of rape and sexual assault to track their rape kits.

State Representative Bob Freeman (D – Davidson County) is one of the lawmakers working to pass the Jim Coley Rape Survivor Protection Act.

“It’s time. It’s time for us to modernize this process,” Rep. Freeman said. “The TBI has done a great job up to this point, but we need to give them the authority to modernize this process. ”

The sexual assault bill will let the TBI and victims track the kit and allow victims to better advocate for themselves.

“Through the process by knowing where their kit is — ‘Has it been tested? Has it left the sheriff’s department? Is it in the testing facility? Has there been a match?’ — we make sure that the person at every step of the process knows exactly what’s happening,” Rep. Freeman said.

The bill is going before the House Finance Committee. As for the price tag for the proposed online tracking system, Representative Freeman says it’ll have to be funded.

“This one has a $1,600 a year fiscal note,” he said. “Because of that, it’s not in the budget so we’ll have to go and fight to make sure this gets funded.”

Rachel Freeman is the president and CEO of Nashville’s Sexual Assault Center.

“It also communicates to all of our communities, to all victims and survivors that they are worth it. That they are worth $1,600 dollars a year,” she said. “In my personal opinion, it could be a lot more than that and it would still be worth it.”

Freeman works with sexual assault victims, and says this bill is vital for people impacted.

“If you believe this is important to our state, reach out to your legislators,” she said. “The more people they hear from that are supporting this piece of legislation, the better.”

If the bi-partisan supported bill makes it out of committee, it’ll move to the House floor in a few weeks.

Representative Freeman says the software for the proposed online system would be given to the state for free from a municipality in Oregon that’s already using it.

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