ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — New York State is taking steps to protect evidence for victims of sexual offenses. A new state facility will now store rape kits for up to twenty years, giving victims time to decide how they want to move forward.
“It’s a recognition that no one responds to trauma in the same way and we want to extend that long enough so that people can do it anytime that works for them,” said Elizabeth Cronin, Director of the NYS Office of Victim Services.
The facility will hold untested kits which have not yet been turned over to law enforcement. The issue previously was that each hospital had its own time frame as to how long they could store kits. Cronin said it took about 18 months to create the facility, which is located in the capital region. “We worked really closely with all the stakeholders, all the experts, to make sure that the facility is state of the art … climate controlled. We’re dealing with a lot of different things that have to be held under different conditions. We have to have the option for refrigeration, and we had to have specific kinds of space and it can’t be subject to harsh sunlight, so a lot went into the planning of this,” she said.
All this planning, so that the integrity of the evidence is preserved, giving survivors ample time to decide how to proceed. “We want to make this as user friendly as possible and to make sure that they are informed and part of the process,” said Cronin. That’s why hospital staff will also be trained on the electronic system and the victim notification portion of the system.
In a statement, Governor Hochul said: “This new State facility will be a critical tool to help deliver support and justice, while providing a strong foundation for victims to heal and alleviate some of the pressure they may feel when it comes to legal timelines.” You can visit ovs.ny.gov to review Frequently Asked Questions about the facility and storage of the kits.