Allowing prosecutors more time to bring sex-crime charges while at the same time increasing funding to test rape kits is righteous news from the Washington State Legislature.
There will no longer be a statute of limitations for most sex crimes against minors, meaning those too traumatized to pursue victimizers will be able to seek justice later in life. Children in our Southwest Washington communities, and throughout the world, often have been left without recourse for the abuse they suffered, frequently at the hands of trusted adults.
The state’s rape laws were toughened up. The time to bring charges for first- and second-degree rape has been extended to 20 years, and 10 years for third-degree rape. The time limit to prosecute incest cases now will be 10 years from the date the crime was committed or up to the victim’s 30th birthday if the victim was under 18 when the crime was committed.
Many such prosecutions have been stymied by lack of resources to test DNA evidence gathered in rape cases to compare it to that of suspects and criminal databases. This, too, the legislature fixed this year, thanks in part to advocacy by state Attorney general Bob Ferguson.
The State Crime Lab still needs additional resources. Even simple tests for alcohol and drugs in traffic prosecutions now must sometimes wait many months. Justice delayed doesn’t exactly equal justice denied, but it is past time for our state’s high-tech criminal investigators to be provided with all the resources they require to do their jobs in an effective and timely manner.