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

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

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

SACRAMENTO – 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 privately and electronically track and receive updates regarding the status, location and information regarding their rape kit passed from the Assembly Public Safety Committee earlier today.

“SB 215 empowers rape survivors and prioritizes healing and justice by making sure that survivors are able to easily and privately find out where their kit is in the process,” Senator Leyva said. “After having been raped and then undergoing an invasive rape kit exam, a survivor should certainly be able to track the status of the rape kit privately whenever they would like.  SB 215 establishes a survivor sensitive process that helps to keep rape survivors informed, while also continuing to ensure justice by helping to hold rapists accountable for their crimes.”

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 a private and uncomplicated option for survivors to learn important timely information regarding their rape kits.  California law currently requires law enforcement and forensic laboratories 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, the process is difficult and not private. 

Sponsored jointly by 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 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).

Additionally supported by California District Attorneys Association, Leda Health, National Association of Social Workers / California Chapter, Prosecutors Alliance California, Riverside Sheriffs' Association, San Diego County District Attorney's Office and Work Equity Action Fund, this measure next proceeds to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration.