Leyva Introduces Legislation to Require Testing of Rape Kits

SB 1449 Complements Assemblymember Chiu’s AB 3118 Requiring Statewide Audit of Existing Rape Kit Backlog

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) introduced legislation on Friday to require law enforcement agencies and forensic laboratories to promptly analyze and test all newly collected rape kit evidence in California.

Sponsored by the Joyful Heart Foundation, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley and Natasha’s Justice Project, SB 1449 follows federal best practices and ensures that victims reporting sexual assault across California will have equal access to swift submission and analysis of forensic evidence associated with their cases.  Under this legislation, newly collected rape kits must be submitted within 20 days and tested no later than 120 days after receipt, preventing the development of backlogs of forensic evidence in evidence rooms or laboratories.  Promptly testing DNA evidence in rape kits can identify an unknown assailant, link crimes together, identify serial perpetrators, and exonerate the wrongfully convicted.

“SB 1449 will ensure justice by requiring that rape kits in California are tested promptly, regardless of where they live or where the crime was committed,” Senator Leyva said.  “As the author of SB 813 that eliminated the statute of limitations on rape in California, I am proud to now author this important legislation to make sure that rape victims have equal access to justice and the ability to find the perpetrator.  I am also pleased to be working with Assemblymember Chiu as he introduced AB 3118 to conduct a statewide audit so that we can find out exactly how many untested rape kits exist across the state.  Rape is one of the most life altering and traumatizing experiences, so it’s critical that rape kits are processed swiftly to both attain justice and help identify and prosecute rapists so that we can keep them off the streets.  SB 1449 and AB 3118 will require that rape kits are tested promptly moving forward and that we know how many untested kits exist in California so that we can keep communities and potential victims safe.”

AB 3118—authored by Assemblymember David Chiu and co-authored by Senator Leyva—will require all law enforcement agencies, medical facilities, crime laboratories, and any other facilities that receive, maintain, store, or preserve sexual assault evidence kits to conduct an audit of all sexual assault evidence kits in their possession.

“Sexual assault survivors deserve justice.  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.  These bills will ensure we are finally getting answers for survivors,” noted Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco).

Serving currently as the Vice Chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, Senator Leyva authored legislation signed into law to eliminate the statute of limitations on rape (SB 813) in 2016 and to criminalize sextortion (SB 500) in 2017.  The Senator is also currently leading efforts to ban secret settlements in cases of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sex discrimination in California (SB 820) and protect victims of harassment from retaliation (SB 1038).

SB 1449 and AB 3118 will soon be assigned to the appropriate policy committee(s) for consideration.