The Florida House of Representatives unanimously passed HB 673, Gail’s Law, by Representative Emily Slosberg. Gail’s Law requires the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to create and maintain a statewide system for tracking sexual assault evidence kits from the point of collection through the criminal justice process. That tracking system must be accessible to sexual assault survivors, giving them the option of receiving updates on the status of the evidence in their case. Currently, 30 states and Washington D.C. have implemented statewide databases for tracking sexual assault kits.
HB 673 is named Gail’s Law in honor of the dedicated advocacy of Ms. Gail Gardner, an Orlando woman who survived a vicious sexual assault in 1988 by an armed man who broke into her home and raped her at knifepoint.
Despite courageously consenting to an invasive physical exam where investigators collected forensic evidence, Gail waited over 30 years before her kit was tested. Police recently identified Gail’s attacker as a serial rapist who was already serving a life sentence in prison for another sexual assault. Sadly, evidence that could have led to his conviction sat on a shelf for 33 years.
“I am proud to have this bill named after me and to know that it will bring information and answers to sexual assault survivors, like me,” said Ms. Gail Gardner, the namesake of Gail’s Law. “I waited 32 fear and anxiety-filled years to hear anything about my kit and my case, and I know others are experiencing that tragedy right now. My heart aches for them. Gail’s law will help fix the problem and bring some healing to survivors who deserve no less.”
Representative Slosberg, the Co-Chair of the Florida Women’s Legislative Caucus, said, “I am thrilled to see Gail’s Law passed by the Florida House with such broad support, especially during National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. There is no reason why we should be able to track a pizza more efficiently than we can track critical evidence in a sexual assault case. By passing Gail’s Law, we are addressing the historical lack of accountability surrounding sexual assault investigations, reducing the potential for evidence to go untested, and empowering survivors of sexual assault.”
“I was proud to support the Legislature’s previous action to clear the backlog of sexual assault kits and ensure kits are tested in a timely manner,” state Senator Linda Stewart previously said about the legislation when she filed SB 1002. “This bill continues that work and is an important next step demonstrating the state’s commitment to empowering sexual assault survivors.”