Gould’s Gander: JPD Not In The Wrong For Destroying Rape Kits Prior To Law Passing

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Justin R. Gould and do not imply endorsement by WNYNewsNow or its sponsors.

JAMESTOWN – The report by CNN this week naming the Jamestown Police Department as one of several police agencies nationwide that destroyed rape kits prematurely has drawn a lot of conversation online, although JPD is not in the wrong for doing so.
Prior to the current law being signed, outside of New York City, police agencies were under no state obligation to test sexual assault evidence kits.
That changed in 2016 when New York Public Health Law § 2805-i was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The law clarified how sexual offense evidence is collected and maintained.
“All sexual offense evidence shall be kept in a locked, separate and secure area for twenty years from the date of collection; provided that such evidence shall be transferred to a new location(s) pursuant to this subdivision,” the law stated.
Jamestown Police Chief Harry Snellings told WNYNewsNow Friday that the two cases in question by CNN occurred in 2011, five years before the law was signed by Cuomo.
In addition, Snellings explained to CNN that there are several examples of why investigating agencies would not keep evidence.
“They include victims recanting their statements and investigations revealing that the acts were consensual or did not occur. If there is no crime committed, there is no need to retain the evidence,” said Snellings.
The new law, rightfully so, fixes a number of problems.
According to a 2004 article published in The Journal Times, the social response to sexual violence is often marked by a tendency to blame the victim.
“We often work unbelievably hard to find any reason for why this happened. ‘What did she do to deserve this?’ By making these doubts part of our cultural sentiment we leave many victims asking themselves the same question. Such doubt in the mind of a victim can undermine her ability to face the process,” the journal found.
The 2016 law rightfully protects victims of sexual abuse. Victims may face obstacles when trying to report horrible crimes that occurred. Some may only come forward years after the incident.
Law enforcement is only trying to help those victims. People who attack law enforcement for not following a law that was not written should rethink their argument.
According to the United State Constitution Ex Post Facto Clause Article I, §9, clause 3, no one can be prosecuted for not following a law before it was passed.
“No … ex post facto law shall be passed.:”
In lemans terms, Congress cannot pass a law that punishes a person retroactively, i.e., after the fact. In other words, a person cannot be punished for something he/she did that was not a crime when committed.
The court of public opinion does not, however, follow the Constitution. In this case, that is unfortunately unfair to our law enforcement.
Laws will forever change as society changes. It is the job of our lawmakers to craft them to fit the needs of the populous, sometimes the demands of the populous. It is our judicial branch’s job to interpret those laws created. It is the job of our law enforcement to enforce the laws that were ultimately created by the people.
Jamestown Police were only following the laws and guidelines in place at the time. No fault on their part. Just the inability to see the future. I don’t fault them for that. God bless our men and women in blue.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Justin R. Gould and do not imply endorsement by WNYNewsNow or its sponsors.