In July 2017, Attorney General Lisa Madigan rolled out comprehensive guidelines for responding to sexual assault in Illinois, according to a press release from the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. With detailed instructions on how to respond to complaints of sexual abuse, Illinois law enforcement will be in a better position to help and support victims.
Titled “Comprehensive Guidelines for Law Enforcement Policies on Responding to and Investigating Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse,” Madigan’s initiative mandates a number of changes, including updates to reporting policy, test results and test consent.
- Reporting: Authorities must prepare reports in writing for every claim of sexual assault. It does not matter who reported the crime or where the crime happened.
- Test Results: Victims have the power to ask for the test results concerning sexual assault evidence. But if the release of such information would jeopardize an open case, law enforcement authorities can decline to respond.
- Test Consent: Victims have more time to consider whether to consent to test analysis of sexual assault evidence. For adults, the deadline increases from 14 days to five years after the crime. For children, the deadline is five years from their 18th birthday.
This development is the latest in a string dating back to 2015. At that time, the Joint Sexual Assault Working Group (Working Group) formed as a coalition between the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
The Working Group sought to address a severe problem; most sexual assault crimes go unreported. Leading the charge to pass The Sexual Assault Incident Procedure Act (Act) in 2016, the Working Group focused on minimizing trauma to victims by improving response techniques.
The Act compels Illinois law enforcement to employ “evidence-based, trauma-informed policies” in response to claims of sexual assault. The Act also compels Illinois law enforcement to undergo “specialized sexual assault training.” Additionally, the Act sets a deadline of January 2018 for development and implementation of required policies.
“The new law is intended to encourage more survivors of these devastating crimes to come forward, receive justice and begin the healing process,” Madigan stated in the press release. “These comprehensive guidelines will help to ensure law enforcement agencies are responsive to survivors.”
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(image courtesy of Greg Rakozy)