Senate Judiciary Committee Advances Legislation for Safer Communities in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG – The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced two bills today focused on safer communities, according to the committee’s chair, Sen Lisa Baker (R-20).

Senate Bill 920 would implement a statewide rape kit tracking system, allowing victims to go online and track the progress of the DNA evidence collected as part of their case. The bill implements the recommendations of Act 70 of 2022 requiring the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Coalition to Advance Respect, to conduct a study and report examining the resources required for a statewide rape kit tracking system.

DNA testing is not immediate and often involves a prolonged period before results are finalized. The Pennsylvania State Police has been actively tackling the backlog of DNA evidence testing. However, the process is inherently time-consuming due to multiple stages involved in testing and analysis.

“We are in sympathy with the victims who are forced to cope with a system that is drawn out under the best of circumstances, a situation aggravated by the backlog of cases,” Baker said. “Each day without knowledge of the perpetrator exacerbates their trauma and suffering. This legislation would allow them to track the progress of their rape kit and know the precise timeline and location.”

Senate Bill 1127 would require a prosecutor to notify the United States Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) whenever a criminal defendant is an illegal immigrant.

“This bill will establish uniformity across the state, providing more accountability in the process and ensuring that no individual, regardless of their immigration status, evades responsibility for criminal actions,” Baker said. “Cooperation between law enforcement agencies is not just a matter of protocol, but a vital commitment to upholding the rule of law and safeguarding our society.”

Both bills are part of the Senate Republican effort to improve community safety across Pennsylvania. The bills now head to the full Senate for consideration.

Cara Laudenslager

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