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S. 2566 (114th): Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Feb 23, 2016.

Sexual Assault Survivors' Rights Act

This bill amends the federal criminal code to establish statutory rights for sexual assault survivors, including the right to: (1) receive a forensic medical examination at no cost, (2) have a sexual assault evidence collection kit (i.e., rape kit) preserved for the maximum applicable statute of limitations, (3) receive written notification prior to destruction or disposal of a rape kit, and (4) be informed of the rights and policies under this section.

Additionally, it makes statutory crime victims' rights applicable to sexual assault survivors.

The bill amends the Victims' Rights and Restitution Act of 1990 to include information about sexual assault services, programs, and providers in the description of services provided to victims.

The bill amends the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 to authorize the Department of Justice's (DOJ's) Office of Justice Programs to make grants to states to develop sexual assault survivors' rights and policies and to disseminate written notice of such rights and policies to medical centers, hospitals, forensic examiners, sexual assault service providers, law enforcement agencies, and other state entities.

DOJ and the Department of Health and Human Services must establish a joint working group to develop, coordinate, and disseminate best practices regarding the care and treatment of sexual assault survivors and the preservation of forensic evidence.

It expresses the sense of Congress that: (1) DOJ should discourage prosecutions of sexual assault survivors for minor offenses (e.g., underage alcohol consumption), particularly if the evidence of such offense is discovered through a medical forensic examination, and (2) survivors should be informed that they will not be prosecuted for minor offenses discovered through a medical forensic examination.

For purposes of this bill, the term "sexual assault survivor" includes a deceased victim of sexual assault.