(WMC-TV) - The Tennessee House of Representatives voted unanimously Monday to pass a bill eliminating the statute of limitations on rape and aggravated rape cases filed within three years of the crime.
The bill, which was co-sponsored by Senator Mark Norris and Representative Joe Towns, previously passed the senate.
Sen. Norris calls the bill the most important one of the general assembly.
Most rape cases will now not face a time limit during which prosecution of an accused rapist can begin.
"I sure hope this puts more people behind bars," said Memphis Area Women's Council Executive Director Deborah Clubb. "I also wish it would send a message that we won't tolerate this evil behavior, that we won't let people walk around getting away with this."
"It's one of the important things we can do to help these survivors, these victims, and hope to lessen the pain and trauma as we go forward," said Tenn. Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris.
Clubb says it is still unclear if the new bill will play a role in the prosecution of cases resulting from the thousands of backlogged, untested rape kits in Memphis and Shelby County.
"It's hopeful," she said. "It's hopeful to see largely men in leadership recognize that there's a barrier they can take down that will make us safer. It's a really good day."
Senator Norris said it could be a few weeks before Governor Haslam signs the bill into law. If he does, it will take effect July 1.
Copyright 2014 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.
730 North Summit Street