Senator Leyva: California Must Test All New Rape Kits

SB 22 Ensures Justice for Survivors and Helps Put Rapists Behind Bars

Monday, December 3, 2018

SACRAMENTO – On the first day of the 2019-2020 legislative session, Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) reintroduced legislation requiring that law enforcement agencies and forensic laboratories promptly analyze and test all newly collected rape kit evidence in California.

Jointly sponsored by the Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, Joyful Heart Foundation, and Natasha’s Justice Project, SB 22 follows federal best practices and ensures that survivors 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 rape kits 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.

“The bill that I introduced, SB 22, stands alongside rape survivors by making sure that their rape kits are tested without delay so that we can hold their rapists accountable for their crimes and put them behind bars,” Senator Leyva said.  “Though countless rape survivors, victims’ rights organizations, law enforcement officials and I were clearly disappointed by the current Governor’s veto of a previous version of this bill in September, I strongly believe that my legislative colleagues and Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom will see the urgency of this legislation so that new rape kits are not sitting on a shelf or warehouse somewhere while rapists continue to walk our streets. After having been raped and then undergoing an invasive rape kit exam, it is outrageous that a survivor would be led to believe that their rape kit would be tested promptly and then have it sit untested for months or years.  Each untested rape kit represents a person and I will not rest until we fully ensure justice for survivors.”

Earlier this year—in spite receiving not a single ‘No’ vote in the Senate and Assembly—Governor Jerry Brown vetoed legislation (Senate Bill 1449) authored by Senator Leyva that would have similarly required the prompt testing of all new rape kits in California.  During the last legislative session, AB 3118—authored by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and coauthored by Senator Leyva—was signed into law and will require each law enforcement agency, crime lab, medical facility, or any other facility that possesses sexual assault evidence kits to conduct an audit of all untested kits in its possession and report findings to the Department of Justice.

SB 22 will soon be assigned to the appropriate policy committee(s) for consideration.