Lawmaker hopes to enact rape kit test standards - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Lawmaker hopes to enact rape kit test standards

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - A Memphis lawmaker authored a bill to establish rape kit testing standards across Tennessee.  This comes after more than 12,000 rape kits went untested for decades in Memphis.

Tennessee State Representative Antonio Parkinson wants to make rape kit testing mandatory and to put a time limit on how long the evidence sits on a shelf.

Parkinson says there is a dire need to bring closure to the women and men whose rape kits are backlogged.

"People may be running around who might be rapists on our streets and in our communities," Parkinson said.

He says there is also a flip side.

"You have those that were accused and they haven't been vindicated as to whether or not they raped someone," he explained.

The Memphis mayor assigned Police Director Toney Armstrong the task of processing the backlogged kits.

"I certainly welcome any and all legislation that we can put in place to hold me accountable as a director, and to hold my investigators accountable moving forward so we won't have this problem again," commented Armstrong.

There are three components to Parkinson's bill:

- The rape kits must be submitted to the TBI or a TBI-authorized lab for testing within ten days.

- The lab has six months to analyze the kits.

- The TBI would be required to come up with a plan to manage the backlog.

"There is a need to solve this problem and so we're going to give it our best effort to make sure these individuals who are victims on both sides of this are not victimized again," Parkinson explained.

The State Legislature resumes January 14th.

It's unclear how long the bill will take to make it through the General Assembly.

The Joyful Heart Foundation says donations to pay for the rape kits backlog will be doubled due to a $50,000 match by a group of donors. Click here to make a donation: http://joinus.joyfulheartfoundation.org/page/m/7aefe871/18296fb6/6fd88a0b/71da3018/1001728786/VEsC/

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