The Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault has proposed more than two dozen changes for lawmakers ahead of the 2019 legislative session with hopes that individuals who are victims of sexual assault can more easily seek justice.
The biggest change they are pushing for is to change language in the law such that it is illegal to engage in sex with a person who is too intoxicated to consent. The coalition also wants to require police departments and prosecutors to compile data on sexual assaults and report their outcomes.
The group met on Tuesday for the final time this year, and they finalized the proposals that they pitched to lawmakers. Other changes include requiring trauma-informed training for police officers to creating a statewide council to review responses to sexual assault. They also want DNA collected from individuals arrested for sexual assault crimes at the time they are arrested. Currently, DNA is only collected after the individual has been convicted.
“We really need to start by agreeing that we think a crime has been committed in the same manner we believe that of other crimes reported,” Teri McLaughlin, Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault executive director, said, “from that, we have a basis to move forward.”
Changing Sexual Assault Laws
The coalition also recommended that prosecutors, state agencies, and police licensure boards update their internal policies for investigating sexual assaults, training officers to handle sexual assault reports and creating an overall culture where sexual assault is taken seriously.
Attorney General Lori Swanson believes that if some of these changes are adopted and Minnesota can develop a culture where every sexual assault is taken seriously and is handled appropriately, Minnesota could become a model for the nation. Swanson’s term ends in January, but she plans to return to the Capitol next year to help promote the recommendations put forth by the coalition.
“I don’t think that doing nothing is an option,” Swanson said.
The 2019 legislative session begins on January 8.