Gov. Rick Snyder today signed a supplemental budget bill that includes $4 million for the State Forensics Laboratory Fund to conduct DNA testing on thousands of unprocessed rape kits from crimes committed in the city of Detroit.
"Thousands of victims have been waiting too long for the justice they deserve. This effort will start us on the path to find justice for these victims. It also will help improve public safety in Michigan by helping us catch and lock up these vicious criminals," Snyder said. "This initiative shows how state and local agencies can work together and find new ways to fight crime."
The appropriation is funded by settlement monies successfully recovered by Attorney General Bill Schuette from state and national litigation.
"Twice women were violated, first by the rape, and second when justice was left in a box on the shelf. That's going to end, starting now. I cannot thank Gov. Snyder and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy enough for working together with us to make this happen," Schuette said.
In 2009, approximately 11,300 untested rape kits dating back 25 years were discovered in a Detroit Police Department property storage facility. Each rape kit has the potential to solve multiple crimes, including those committed by serial rapists.
Since the closure of the Detroit Police Department Crime Laboratory in September 2009, the Michigan State Police (MSP) has been providing forensic science services to the city of Detroit and the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office. The MSP's Forensic Science Division has been instrumental in the laboratory analysis of sexual assault kits and will continue to work with the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office and the Detroit Police Department on efforts to test the kits.
The governor, attorney general, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, MSP Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, and the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board Director Debi Cain announced the plan in June.
House Bill 4112, sponsored by state Rep. Joe Haveman, also appropriated money for other public safety efforts, including $2.5 million in local funding to open and operate the city of Detroit Detention Center at the former Mound Correctional Facility in the city, consisting of a 200-bed lock up that is slated to open later this summer, and funding to help implement and operate the OK-2-SAY student safety hotline. Another $5.1 million for the Grand Rapids Veterans Home will help ensure and provide needed care to Michigan veterans, and $350,000 in funding will assist in the education and the cooperative education agreement between the Albion and Marshall School Districts. It also included funding for a handful of capital outlay projects at universities and community colleges across the state as well as for a new State Emergency Operations Center.
HB 4112 is now Public Act 102 of 2013. Visit legislature.mi.gov for more detailed information on what is included in the budget supplemental.
Snyder also today signed four other bills related to home foreclosures. In an accompanying letter, he called on the Legislature to act quickly to clarify parts of the new laws.
Senate Bill 380, sponsored by state Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, extends until January 10, 2014, a 90-day pre-foreclosure negotiation period allowing homeowners to seek loan modifications with lenders. It is now PA 103.
SB 383, sponsored by state Sen. Darwin Booher, keeps in place a 180-day, post-foreclosure period for owners to reclaim or short sell a home. It allows a purchaser to inspect a home during that period at any time and permits the owner to evict a resident if certain damage exists to the property. It is now PA 104.
HB 4765, sponsored by state Rep. Jeff Farrington, extends until June 30, 2014, the sunset on a 2009 law in which mortgage lenders must attempt to negotiate revisions to delinquent loans before they can proceed to a "foreclosure by advertisement". It is now PA 105.
HB 4766, sponsored by state Rep. Mike Callton, establishes conditions that certain foreclosing parties must meet in order to foreclose on property in which the first notice was published after January 9, 2014. It is now PA 106.
The governor said in his letter that, despite the help this legislation provides to protect lenders against property destruction, it is vital that the Legislature approve follow-up measures that are more specific on a number of points to protect homeowners, lenders, and communities. He said he will convene a workgroup within the next week to find solutions to these issues.
Visit legislature.mi.gov for more information on these bills.