Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced Wednesday that Illinois lawmakers passed legislation to encourage more sexual assault survivors to come forward and increase the successful prosecution of sexual assault crimes in Illinois.
The legislation, initiated by the Joint Sexual Assault Working Group, will be sent to the governor for final approval.
Senate Bill 3096 was drafted with the Joint Sexual Assault Working Group led by Madigan, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly and Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault Executive Director Polly Poskin. The Working Group was formed to address statistics that show survivors of sexual assault are not reporting their crimes to authorities. The legislation will implement victim-centered policies and require sexual assault response training for law enforcement authorities and first responders, including 911 operators, in order to improve the response to survivors and encourage more survivors to report their crimes. The bill also makes changes to state law that will allow the Illinois State Police to take action necessary to process and test rape kits faster.
“Sexual assault is far too pervasive in our society today, and we need to reform the way we handle these crimes at every level of our criminal justice system,” Madigan said. “This legislation will require training and specific protocols for Illinois law enforcement in order to encourage sexual assault survivors to come forward to authorities.”
The bill will make the following changes to improve the response to sexual assault crimes in Illinois:
- Law enforcement agencies and 911 centers will be required to put in place evidence-based, trauma-informed, victim-centered policies governing responses to sexual assault.
- Law enforcement officers will be required to complete written reports of every sexual assault complaint, regardless of who is reporting the crime and where it occurred.
- Victim-sensitive training will be increased for law enforcement investigators, first responders and 911 operators.
- Survivors will be able to request updates on the status of the testing of their sexual assault evidence by the state crime lab. Illinois State Police will be required to respond to status requests unless doing so would compromise or impede an ongoing investigation.
- The time period for survivors to consent to the testing of their sexual assault forensic evidence will be extended from 14 days to five years after the assault. Survivors under the age of 18 at the time of the crime will have five years from their 18th birthday to consent to the testing of the evidence.
The Working Group has worked over the past year to address statistics that show only a fraction of sexual assault survivors come forward to Illinois authorities. During fiscal year 2015, 9,593 individuals called Illinois rape crisis center hotlines and 8,908 survivors received in-person services. In that same time period, 10,241 children were referred to child advocacy centers for sexual abuse. But studies suggest that between only 5 to 20 percent of rapes are reported to law enforcement, and only a small number of those reported are prosecuted.
Madigan, working with the Joint Sexual Assault Working Group, successfully advocated last year for legislative action to prevent sexual assault survivors from receiving bills for medical forensic examinations, expand sexual assault response training at all Illinois police academies, and increase funding for the Illinois State Police’s crime lab.
Members of the Joint Sexual Assault Working Group include the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the Illinois Sheriffs Association, the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, the Chicago Police Department, Rape Victims Advocates, the Center for the Prevention of Abuse, YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago, the Illinois Department of Health Care and Family Services, and the Illinois Department of Public Health.
For information, visit Madigan’s website or call her office’s toll-free Crime Victims’ Assistance Line at (800) 228-3368 or (877) 398-1130 (TTY).