Munoz bills seeking justice and protections for sexual assault victims head to governor’s desk

Munoz bills seeking justice and protections for sexual assault victims head to governor’s desk

Nancy F. Munoz

TRENTON, N.J. – Two measures sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy F. Munoz supporting victims of sexual violence head to the governor’s desk after passing unanimously in the Assembly today. The bills, A2370 and A1651, require the Attorney General to conduct a survey of untested rape kits and expand the address confidentiality program to include victims of sexual assault.

“We need to ensure the processes and programs that we have in place to protect victims of sexual violence are working and inclusive,” said Munoz (R-Union). “There are more than 1.8 million people in this state who are survivors of sexual violence and they need our support in seeking justice and safety.”

It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of rape kits sit untested in police department and crime lab storage facilities across the country. Without the crucial DNA evidence contained in these kits, it is hard to prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence.

“The DNA in any one of those kits could be the key to taking serial offenders off the streets,” said Munoz. “Backlogged rape kits are a very real problem in too many states. Unfortunately, we don’t really know if we have a problem with the number of kits gathering dust in this state.”

Munoz’s measure would call on the AG’s office to survey every law enforcement agency in the state in an effort to gather statistical information on rape kits currently in their possession and their policies and procedures for testing, tracking and storing kits. A report on the findings would be submitted to the governor and Legislature.

“Knowledge is power and helps us create better policy,” explained Munoz.

The second measure would expand the address confidentiality program to include victims of stalking, sexual assault, and those who have applied for protective orders. Currently the program permits victims of domestic violence to use an alternate mailing address to protect them from offenders who use public records.

“No one should ever have to fear for their lives or their children’s well-being while living in their own home,” said Munoz. “Many more victims will have their real addresses kept private, which will hopefully give them some peace of mind.”