Chiu Bill to Audit Backlog of Untested Rape Kits Passes Senate

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A bill by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) to address the backlog of untested sexual assault evidence kits passed the Senate floor today. The measure, AB 3118, will require a statewide audit of all untested rape kits in California.

"Sexual assault survivors deserve justice, and a rape kit sitting on a shelf collecting dust is not justice," said Assemblymember Chiu. "To truly address the backlog, we need to know how many untested kits exist in California, and we must test all kits moving forward to ensure we do not increase that backlog."


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Assembly Bill 3118 would require a one-time, statewide audit of California's rape kit backlog by requiring all agencies that receive, maintain, or preserve sexual assault evidence kits to survey all kits in the agencies' possession and report those findings to the California Department of Justice. The bill also requires the Department of Justice to report the findings of the audit to the Legislature.

AB 3118 was introduced alongside Senator Connie M. Leyva's SB 1449, which will require the testing of all new sexual assault evidence kits. SB 1449 will require that law enforcement agencies submit evidence collected to a laboratory within 20 days and laboratories process that evidence within 120 days following receipt.

"Together, SB 1449 and AB 3118 will help ensure that we continue to stand on the side of justice for rape victims in California," said Senator Connie M. Leyva.  "I am proud to continue working with Assemblymember Chiu on these important bills that will protect public safety and solidify California's leadership in helping victims of rape and sexual assault."


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These efforts come amidst the national uproar around the mismanagement of sexual assault evidence kits and what is known as the "rape kit backlog." Some jurisdictions have worked to decrease their backlogs to varying degrees, but there is currently no comprehensive data available in California about the number of sexual assault evidence kits that remain untested. While existing law encourages law enforcement to test kits in a timely manner, how different agencies interpret and implement this legislative guidance varies significantly.

Assemblymember Chiu and Senator Leyva were able to secure resources in the State budget to fund these initiatives. One million dollars will be available to fund an audit of untested rape kits, and $6.5 million will be used to test both backlogged and newly collected kits.


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The Joyful Heart Foundation, Alameda District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, and Natasha's Justice Project are sponsors of both AB 3118 and SB 1449.

 "The implementation of this bill will fundamentally alter the landscape of the national rape kit backlog. Today, we are a significant step closer to understanding the reality of California's untested sexual assault kit inventory, which is the largest state in the country without an accurate count," said Ilse Knecht, Director of Policy & Advocacy at the Joyful Heart Foundation. "For too long, the extent of California's rape kit backlog has been unknown, stalling justice for survivors and allowing predators to remain free. We are proud to stand with our partners in championing this accomplishment and look forward to the Governor's signature." 


"Thank you to Assemblymember David Chiu and Senator Connie Leyva for their leadership on this important public safety legislation," said Alameda District Attorney Nancy O'Malley. "The prompt testing and effective tracking of rape kits will bring justice to sexual assault victims throughout our state."

AB 3118 now heads to the Assembly floor for a concurrence vote, while Senator Leyva's bill, SB 1449, is awaiting a vote on the Assembly floor.

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