Leyva Bill Requiring Online Portal for Rape Survivors to Track Their Rape Kits Clears Committee

If Enacted, SB 215 Would Enable California to Join Over Two Dozen States in Implementing Similar Tracking Portals

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

SACRAMENTO – With strong bipartisan support, the Senate Public Safety Committee today approved legislation authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that will require the addition of a new online portal to California’s existing rape kit tracking system to allow survivors of sexual assault to anonymously and electronically track and receive updates regarding the status, location and information regarding their rape kit.

“SB 215 empowers rape survivors, strengthens public safety and prioritizes healing and justice,” Senator Leyva said. “The fact that rape survivors in California must currently contact law enforcement agencies by phone or in person in order to receive an update on their rape kit is clearly not a survivor sensitive process and a reality that we must swiftly change.  After they have already been sexually assaulted—and after they have bravely endured a long and invasive rape kit exam—it is absolutely crucial that we enable survivors to track the status of their rape kit anonymously and whenever they wish.”

Specifically, SB 215 would add a survivor portal to California’s existing rape kit tracking system—the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Tracking (SAFE-T) database—to ensure an anonymous and uncomplicated option for survivors to learn important timely information regarding their rape kits.  California law currently states that law enforcement and forensic laboratories are required to use the California Department of Justice’s SAFE-T evidence system to maintain and update information about the location and testing status of all newly collected rape kits. Upon the request of a sexual assault survivor, state statute specifies that the law enforcement agency shall inform the survivor of the status of the DNA testing of the rape kit evidence or other crime scene evidence from the survivor’s case. Unfortunately, without a way for survivors to track their own rape kit online, this process is difficult and not private.

Jointly sponsored by the Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, Joyful Heart Foundation and Natasha’s Justice Project, SB 215 would ensure that California joins over two dozen states across the nation—from Hawaii to Massachusetts and many other states in between—that have already implemented similar online rape kit tracking portals.  The full list of states that have developed a rape kit tracking system is available on the End the Backlog website.

Senator Leyva previously authored legislation signed into law to eliminate the statute of limitations on rape (SB 813), criminalize sextortion (SB 500), ban secret settlements in cases of sexual assault, sexual harassment and sex discrimination (SB 820) and require the prompt testing of rape kits (SB 22).

Supported also by Prosecutors Alliance of California, Riverside Sheriffs’ Association and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, this measure next proceeds to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.