Gov. DeSantis signs ‘Gail’s Law,’ allows victims to track rape kit processing

untested rape kits Rick Scott
The law is named for a survivor who waited 30 years for evidence to be processed.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation to expedite the process for collecting rape kits.

“Gail’s Law” aims to help rape survivors track evidence that could lead to their attackers’ arrests. The legislation (HB 673) creates a database that will be open to victims of crimes to track what is going on with their kits as law enforcement processes them.

The new law is named for Gail Gardner, an Orlando survivor raped at knifepoint in her Orlando home whose rape kit wait 30 years to be tested, ultimately to tie the crime to a convicted serial rapist.

“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 Gardner said.  “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. Now, I’m satisfied but let’s look forward to the day when a Rape Kit Tracking System will no longer be needed.”

Lawmakers heralded the bill as a way to catch rapists and hold investigators accountable to pursuing justice.

“I’m so proud to see Gail’s Law signed and become law, as this will empower survivors and lead to perpetrators being apprehended more quickly,” said Sen. Linda Stewart, an Orlando Democrat and the bill’s sponsor.

“After suffering through an assault, many survivors feel powerless in a system that can be overwhelming, confusing and often fails to provide the appropriate support. Gail’s Law would bring accountability and transparency to the process – placing the power back in the hands of survivors.”

Rep. Emily Slosberg, a Boca Raton Democrat, carried the bill in the House.

“I am thrilled to see Gail’s Law signed into law after passing the Florida Legislature with such broad support,” Slosberg said. “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.”

Advocacy groups praised the new law.

“The passage of Gail’s Law shows the collective power of survivors working together to enact real change,” said Carol Wick, president of Sharity Global, a nonprofits network. “With the Governor’s signature, we have taken one more step to hold those who hurt others accountable and making Florida a safer place for everyone.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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