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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 18X: Statewide sexual assault evidence kit tracking system

Section 18X. (a) The executive office of public safety and security shall establish and maintain a statewide sexual assault evidence kit tracking system. The secretary of public safety and security, hereinafter referred to as the secretary, in conjunction with the department of public health, shall convene a multidisciplinary task force composed of members that include law enforcement professionals, crime lab personnel, prosecutors, victim advocates, victim attorneys, survivors and sexual assault nurse examiners or sexual assault forensic examiners to help develop recommendations for a tracking system, methods to improve transportation of sexual assault evidence kits and funding sources. The secretary may contract with state or non-state entities including, but not limited to, private software and technology providers, for the creation, operation and maintenance of the system. A sexual assault evidence kit shall include the standardized kit for the collection and preservation of evidence in sexual assault or rape cases as designed by the municipal police training committee pursuant to section 97B of chapter 41.

(b) The statewide sexual assault evidence kit tracking system shall:

(i) track the location and status of sexual assault evidence kits throughout the criminal justice process, including: (1) the initial collection in examinations performed at hospitals or medical facilities; (2) receipt and storage at a governmental entity, including a local law enforcement agency, the department of state police, a district attorney's office or any other political subdivision of the commonwealth or of a county, city or town; (3) a hospital or medical facility that is in possession of forensic evidence pursuant to section 97B of chapter 41; (4) receipt and analysis at forensic laboratories; and (5) storage and any destruction after completion of analysis;

(ii) allow hospitals or medical facilities performing sexual assault forensic examinations, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, the crime laboratory within the department of state police, or any crime laboratory operated by the police department of a municipality with a population of more than 150,000, and other entities in the custody of sexual assault kits to update and track the status and location of sexual assault kits;

(iii) allow victims of sexual assault to anonymously track and receive updates regarding the status of their sexual assault kits; and

(iv) use electronic technology or technologies allowing continuous access.

(c) Any public agency or entity, including its officials and employees, and any hospital and its employees providing services to victims of sexual assault may not be held civilly liable for damages arising from any release of information or the failure to release information related to the statewide sexual assault evidence kit tracking system, so long as the release was without gross negligence.

(d) Local law enforcement agencies shall participate in the statewide sexual assault evidence kit tracking system established in this section for the purpose of tracking the status of all sexual assault evidence kits in the custody of local law enforcement agencies and other entities contracting with local law enforcement agencies.

(e) The director of the crime laboratory within the department of state police and the director of any crime laboratory operated by the police department of a municipality with a population of more than 150,000 shall participate in the statewide sexual assault evidence kit tracking system established in this section for the purpose of tracking the status of all sexual assault evidence kits in the custody of the department of state police and other entities contracting with the department of state police or such crime laboratory operated by a police department of a municipality with a population of more than 150,000.

(f) A hospital or medical facility licensed pursuant to chapter 111 shall participate in the statewide sexual assault evidence kit tracking system established in this section for the purpose of tracking the status of all sexual assault evidence kits collected by or in the custody of hospitals and other entities contracting with hospitals.

(g) District attorney offices shall participate in the statewide sexual assault evidence kit tracking system established in this section for the purpose of tracking the status of all sexual assault evidence kits.