New Rights for Survivors of Sexual Assault
The Michigan Legislature has taken one more step in helping survivors of sexual assault. A unanimous, comprehensive bill was passed last September, sponsored by State Senator Bert Johnson of Detroit. With this law, there are new rights for survivors of sexual assaults according to The Sexual Assault Victim’s Access to Justice Act.
New Michigan Law Requirements
By September 30th, 2015, law enforcement is required, within 24 hours of first contact with a survivor, to inform survivors about how they can receive help and support, how to access free medical care and testing. In addition, the act allows for survivors to call the police department and access information on the status of their test kit all free of charge.
State Senator Bert Johnson (D-Detroit) said, “Thanks to modern medical advances, we should be able to collect and process more of them. I am confident that this legislation will help us do just that. We also continue to make legislative advances today to ensure we never again have a major backlog of untested rape kits.”
Ensuring Victim’s Rights
Gail Krieger, staff attorney with the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board, gives more insight into how this Act will make a difference.
According to Krieger, this act is important because it ensures that victims are informed. She stated, “It’s important to know what your rights are.” She continues to point out that no one really thinks about the rights of a victim until you find yourself in the position. This law will make sure that all victims will have the required information and resources available to them.
Krieger stated that the act allows for victims to know what services are available to them without having the pressure to decide if they are going to follow through the criminal justice process. In an interview with Michigan Radio, she explained that the important part is to get the victims tested and collect the evidence in the time frame.
Closing the Gap
Krieger realizes that this may not make a dramatic impact, but goes on to say that “I think we have so many great law enforcement officers in the state who really care about the victims, and I hope this helps close the gap so sexual assault victims can really feel that the state is on their side.”
The other key component is that victims will be able to call the police department and find out exactly where their text kit is and what the results of the test. Therefore, this law does not just require for law enforcement to educate victims, but to give new information and insight into the victims own case.
Points Not Covered in the Bill
This bill doesn’t cover all the points that Krieger hopes to see in the future. For example, she hopes that there will be more education and training for law enforcement. When law enforcement gets the training they need, they are more equipped to help victims. Krieger points out that currently our law enforcement is “overstressed” making it difficult for them to receive the time off to get the necessary training.
To listen to the full interview with Gail Krieger on Michigan Radio, please see: Gail Krieger tells us about The Sexual Assault Victim’s Access To Justice Act.
To learn more about the bill, please see: Senate Bill 1004
Over to You
What are your thoughts about the new requirements? Do you think they will help to give victims of sexual assault the information they need to help their case?
If you are a victim of criminal sexual conduct and do not know where to turn, be sure you contact an experienced attorney that will fight diligently for your rights. Please give my office a call. I am here to help.
248-348-7400 or 586-530-1000