WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Thousands of so-called rape kits will no longer sit untested in Florida.
State lawmakers passed a law that forces law enforcement to process these kits quickly and allow victims to track the progress of their cases.
Backers of the new law met in West Palm Beach, including Gail Gardner, a sexual assault survivor who inspired the new law.
"I'm just grateful. I'm just excited," said Gardner, who feared she would never see justice.
She was raped at her home by a stranger in 1988.
"I slept with the lights on and looking through the blinds all those years at somebody, a shadow, anything," Gardner said.
Two years ago, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement identified Gardner's alleged attacker when the agency worked through a backlog of more than 8,000 untested evidence kits.
Police said her attacker was a serial rapist. He's now in prison, three decades after Gail Gardner consented to a test kit that sat later on the shelves.
State Rep. Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, co-sponsored what is now called "Gail's Law."
"Gail, we hear you, and this was our way of legislating justice," Slosberg said.
It mandates that FDLE run a statewide system that tracks evidence kits and gives the victims access to the tracking process. The law also gives the state six months to tell victims if there is a DNA match.
"No victim should be left in the dark about the status of her case," Slosberg said.
For Gardner, it means no more sleepless nights wondering if her attacker will return.
"It’s not just for me only, it's so that no one will ever have to go through this again," Gardner said.
"Gail's Law" will become official next week when Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to hold a bill signing ceremony.