LANSING, Mich., June 15, 2022 — State Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) introduced three bills today to improve the medical forensic examination process for survivors of sexual assault. House Bill 6244 would protect survivors’ own DNA information from being used to prosecute the survivor or their family for offenses unrelated to the assault. HBs 6245 and 6246 would enable survivors to get follow-up care paid for by the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program, including prescription medications and tests for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.
“These bills will make the medical forensic exam system more trustworthy and helpful to survivors of sexual assault,” Rabhi said. “Survivors deserve to know that they will not be targeted for future prosecution when they report an assault and go through a difficult medical forensic exam. The Crime Victims’ Compensation Program should also pay for other medical needs resulting from an assault, not just the forensic exam.”
Sexual assault medical forensic examination kits, also known as rape kits, are used to gather DNA and other evidence related to an assault. Recent reports from California revealed that some crime labs and law enforcement agencies retain survivors’ genetic information and use it in unrelated investigations and prosecutions against survivors and their genetic relatives. Current Michigan law does not prohibit this practice. HB 6244 would specify that survivors’ genetic information could be used only for purposes relevant to identifying the perpetrator of the assault, and that it could not be uploaded to law enforcement databases.
The Michigan Crime Victims’ Rights Fund (CVRF) gets most of its revenue from assessments on offenders. In addition to compensating those directly harmed by crime for expenses like lost wages and funeral expenses, the $20 million CVRF has been used to subsidize other programs such as funding for hospital trauma centers. Sexual assault forensic exams (SAFE) are currently paid for by the CVRF. HB 6246 would set up a voucher system so that survivors could get related follow-up care beyond the initial exam without having to pay out of pocket. Survivors might otherwise be unable to afford later laboratory tests or prescription refills. HB 6245 is a companion bill authorizing the CVRF to expend the funds.