MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — A bill that would require the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to test rape kits they receive within 30 days passed a key House committee Tuesday night.
The bill sponsored by Antonio Parkinson of Memphis passed the Criminal Justice Committee, allowing it to advance to the Government Operations Committee.
The TBI said it currently takes on average around 34 weeks for a rape kit to be tested and for results to be returned to the requesting law enforcement agency.
In 2014, Rep. Parkison filed similar legislation but it was derailed for financial reasons.
The rape kit backlog received national attention after Eliza Fletcher, a Memphis teacher, was kidnapped and killed when she went for a morning jog in September 2022.
Cleotha Abston-Henderson, the man charged with her death, was linked to a rape case that happened a year earlier. However, the results weren’t returned until the day Fletcher’s body was discovered.
Abston-Henderson pleaded not guilty to his charges in Fletcher’s case and more charges were added earlier this month.
“I’m hopeful that we can continue to move this legislation forward. Our missteps, such as that of not passing legislation like this in 2014 has had a tremendous negative impact on many lives in our state,” Parkison said.
The bill is expected to go on to the Government Operations Committee next week.