Home State Laws Kansas Legislature Passes New Rape Law Unanimously

Kansas Legislature Passes New Rape Law Unanimously

 Kansas Legislature Passes New Rape Law Unanimously

DNA testing has made it possible to identify more rapists than ever before, with a degree of certainty that was never before possible in criminal justice.  However, DNA testing has also changed the nature of cold cases.  New databases mean that rapists may be found years or even decades after committing their original crime.

In Kansas, this has recently led to a problem with the state's statute of limitations on rape and sodomy offenses.  Even if a database shows a DNA match for a sex crime, the state's statute of limitations is just five years—if more than five years passes, no matter how certain the evidence is, there's no way for the state to secure a conviction.

Several rape victims whose rapists had been discovered only after the statute of limitations had expired went to the Kansas State House and State Senate to discuss the ways that their rapes had impacted their lives and why it was important to be able to prosecute sex offenders even if more time had elapsed after they committed their offense.

One rape victim testifying in front of lawmakers knows all too well the difference that new forensic evidence techniques can make.  Based on incorrect evidence, police identified the wrong man as her rapist in 1985.  He served time in prison until DNA evidence exonerated him.  The woman's real rapist is still behind bars—for committing another, later sex offense he might have been prevented from committing if the evidence had been available earlier.

The women arguing for the rape laws in Topeka weren't doing it for themselves.  Because the statute of limitations already lapsed on their cases, they will not be able to have their attackers prosecuted and convicted.  However, for a new generation of women growing up in the era of DNA evidence, eliminating the statute of limitations for rape and sodomy (giving the state a chance to prosecute as long as the perpetrator is still alive) will make it easier to get justice, especially in situations involving serial offenders who re-offend over a long period of time.

After hearing testimony from experts and victims, both houses of the Kansas state legislature passed the law unanimously to eliminate the statute of limitations.  While the governor is expected to sign the bill, the unanimous support means that even in the absence of a gubernatorial signature the law is expected to be veto-proof and will go into effect later this year.

Source: ks.gov