Capitol Hill Update from State Representative David Byrd: Session Highlights from 112th General Assembly

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   Jim Coley Protection for Rape Survivors Act– Public Chapter 362 provides more transparency regarding the rape kit backlog process. It makes sure the handling procedure of rape kits is responsive, reliable and consistent. It requires the TBI to develop and implement an electronic system that tracks the location and status of each rape kit and gives victims access to the system through a tracking number.  Victims must also be notified 60 days before destruction or disposal of the evidence.  

   Rape Victims / Custody Rights – Public Chapter 164 ensures child custody rights are removed for those who are convicted or plead guilty to a lesser offense of rape. It adds aggravated statutory rape and statutory rape by an authority figure to the list of offenses for which the offender will be prohibited from having custody rights, protecting the victim and a child conceived in rape from a questionable outcome in a civil custody battle.

   Sex Offender Treatment Programs – Public Chapter 204 requires the sex offender treatment board to create a list of approved sex offender evaluation providers and sex offender treatment providers. Only board-approved providers would be allowed to practice. 

   Counselors / Sexual Misconduct – Public Chapter 509 adds a victim is incapable of defense if sexual contact occurs during the course of a consultation, examination, treatment, therapy or other professional service that are provided by a physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, social worker, nurse, chemical dependency counselor or a member of the clergy.

   As always, I am truly humbled and honored to be your voice on Capitol Hill. If there is ever any issue I can assist with, please reach out to my office by calling 615-741-2190 or emailing me at rep.david.byrd@capitol.tn.gov.