Sexual Assault Help Center hosts Legislative Round Table

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WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – Many rape crisis centers in our local area, and beyond are in need.

That was the topic of discussion at a Round Table discussion Tuesday afternoon.

Officials with the Sexual Assault Help Center brought in lawmakers to find way to address growing issues.

Sexual Assault Help Center Officials said meetings like this are vital because they provide legislators with the information of what is going on at a local level.

That allowed that eye to kind of open, that light bulb to go on, to say hey we might need to change a few things with our laws and maybe create a little more funding so that we can provide those services.

Ashley Carpenter – Sexual Assault Help Center Executive Director

With the Legislative session coming up in January Senator William Ihlenfeld said this Round Table was the perfect opportunity to hear from experts who understand the issues and know what the victims of sexual violence need.

He said one big issue in West Virginia is the back logging of rape kits.

He wants to make it easier on law enforcement by working directly with Hospitals and having them send the kits directly to the crime lab to be tested.

Officials said Rape kits have also been known to help catch criminals for different crimes.

The more of those that we can get to Charleston to be tested the better, and so we have a piece of legislation that we are talking about, and that I believe will be introduced that will help to streamline that process and allow for those kits to be tested much more quickly.

Sen. William Ihlenfeld – (D) Ohio County

State Sexual Assault Coalition Coordinator, Nancy Hoffman said their goal was just to educate!

Strengthening the code of pieces of legislation, eliminating gaps so people can get the protection they need, and additional funding are among a few things that were talked about.

We are spending over $36 million a year on incarcerating sex offenders just in the states adult prisons alone. So $36 million on the offenders, $125,000 on their victims. If we are ever going to eliminate sexual violence, we’ve got to invest in prevention as well.

Nancy Hoffman – WV Foundation for Rape Information and Services, Inc.State Coordinator

Carpenter said this was the first time they have had a Legislative Round Table and they are hoping to make it an annual thing.

If anyone would like to get involved you can head on over to www.sexualassaulthelpcenter.com .

There is also a 24-hours hot line for anyone that needs it.

That number is 1-800-884-7242.

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