New FDLE program allows survivors to track sexual assault kits online
“It puts some of the information power... in the hands of the victim,” said one advocate
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Florida Department of Law Enforcement released a tool this week to help sexual assault survivors get more transparency in their cases.
A new sexual assault kit tracking program is now online statewide. Advocates hope it will empower survivors.
“It puts some of the information power, if you will, in the hands of the victim,” said Emily Mitchem, Executive Director of the Refuge House.
The nonprofit works with about 2,500 sexual assault survivors in the Big Bend area each year. Mitchem believes the new tracking program will have a positive impact.
“It’s so frustrating after you’ve had that kind of traumatic event to then wonder, you know, are they going to catch the person that did this to me?” Mitchem said.
The new database is available in all counties across Florida. If a survivor goes to an emergency room for a sexual assault kit, the practitioner will give them an access card allowing them to log into this new system and track their kit. They can sign up to receive email or text notifications when their kit has moved from one location to the next, and they can also sign up to be notified if a DNA match is found.
Marcella Scott, a crime lab analyst supervisor with FDLE, says this is a step forward for victims.
“It obviously gives them more power and control over information having to do with evidence that was collected off of their body,” Scott said. “And they can choose to have as much knowledge as they want or as little knowledge as they want.”
The program comes as a result of legislation passed two years ago called Gail’s Law. It’s named after Gail Gardner, an Orlando woman who was raped in 1988. Her sexual assault kit was left unprocessed for decades. Now, with this new program, FDLE hopes that will never happen again.
“We can hopefully get these individuals whatever justice that they feel like they need,” Scott said.
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