LANSING – Legislation sponsored by Senator Bert Johnson (D-Detroit) to aid victims of sexual assault was recently signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder. The bills are part of a comprehensive, bipartisan package designed to strengthen victims’ rights and improve how Michigan handles sexual assault cases.

“I am extremely pleased to see Governor Snyder sign these incredibly important pieces of legislation into law,” Sen. Johnson said. “We must do all that we can to protect the rights of sexual assault victims, and thanks to the collaboration and hard work that has gone into these bills, I am confident that having these new laws on the books will help us accomplish that goal.”

The Sexual Assault Victim’s Access to Justice Act, Senate Bill 1004, will require that law enforcement agencies inform victims of the availability of sexual assault evidence kits and other information relating to evidence and investigation of the case. It will also require law enforcement to provide victims with contact information for local, community-based sexual assault services programs, if available.

Another bill introduced by Sen. Johnson, Senate Bill 1021, will extend the period during which hospital personnel must inform victims of the availability of sexual assault evidence kits. Michigan previously required that the kits be offered to victims only within 24 hours of the alleged assault. Senate Bill 1021 will update the law to require that the kits be offered to victims up to 120 hours after crime. Doing so will bring Michigan in line with states that have adjusted their laws to reflect medical advances in kit testing that make it more feasible to collect evidence from kits obtained outside of the 24-hour window.

The Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Tracking and Reporting Act, Senate Bill 998, introduced by Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) and co-sponsored by Sen. Johnson, will establish a commission and database of information for tracking and reporting evidence kits.

The final bill in the package, Senate Bill 1036, sponsored by Sen. Jones, amends the Public Health Code to require that courts order expedited medical testing of a defendant charged with criminal sexual conduct, upon the victim’s request.

“I am very grateful for the strong support that these bills received from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the Legislature,” Sen. Johnson said. “I would also like to express my deep appreciation to the Michigan State Police, the Office of Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, and the various victims’ rights advocates who contributed their expertise throughout this process. Their assistance has been crucial in helping us work toward real solutions and justice for the victims of sexual assault.”