The Office of the Governor’s Sexual Assault Survivors’ Task Force (SASTF) held its inaugural meeting at the Texas State Capitol yesterday. The meeting included discussions on the structure and vision for the task force, and served as a kick-off for phase one of the task force—which will include the development of best practices for the collection, preservation, tracking, analysis, and destruction of evidence in sexual assault cases.
“Texas continues to make great strides in the fight against sexual violence, and the 86th Legislative Session was one of the most significant in history for addressing the atrocity of sexual assault,” said Governor Abbott. “The Sexual Assault Survivors’ Task Force is a crucial component of our enduring goal to raise awareness, combat this heinous crime, and secure justice for survivors. Together, we will continue to develop methods of prevention, support these courageous survivors, and ensure a brighter future for all Texans.”
Created by House Bill 1590 during the 86th Legislative Session and authored by Representative Donna Howard and Senator Kirk Watson, the SASTF is housed in the Office of the Governor’s Public Safety Office and seeks to establish a survivor-centered, trauma-informed, collaborative and coordinated response to sexual violence experienced by adults and children in Texas. The work of the SASTF is divided into five project areas: forensic exams and evidence kits, policies and best practices for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of sexual assault; training and resources for law enforcement, prosecutors and judges; improvements to the collection and reporting of data related to sexual assault; and a statewide inventory of resources for survivors. The first SASFT report, which will detail the work of the SASFT in its first year, will be presented to Governor Abbott and the Texas State Legislature on November 1, 2020.
HB 1590 authorized the work of the task force for four years. The task force will meet quarterly, with working group sessions in between.
The task force includes representatives from the following organizations and agencies:
Office of the Governor*
Texas Association Against Sexual Assault*
Children’s Advocacy Center of Texas*
Office of the Attorney General
Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Texas Commission on Law Enforcement
Texas Forensic Science Commission
Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Crime Lab
Texas Association of Crime Laboratory Directors
Texas District and County Attorney’s Association
Texas Society of Pathologists
International Association of Forensic Nurses Texas Chapter
Plano Police Department
North Richland Hills Police Department
Texas DPS Education, Training, and Research
Texas A&M College of Nursing
Austin’s SAFE Alliance