Legislature Approves Leyva Bill Requiring Online Portal for Rape Survivors to Track Their Rape Kits

SB 215 Now Heads to Governor’s Desk for Consideration

Thursday, September 2, 2021

SACRAMENTO – After not receiving a single ‘No’ vote throughout its legislative journey, 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 California State Assembly today and now advances to the Governor for his consideration.

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 straightforward option for survivors to learn important timely information regarding their rape kits.  California law presently 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.  State statute specifies that—upon the request of a sexual assault survivor—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. Without a way for survivors to track their own rape kit online, the process is unnecessarily difficult and not private. 

“SB 215 prioritizes healing and justice by empowering rape survivors and strengthening public safety,” Senator Leyva said. “In this digital age, it does not make sense that rape survivors are forced to receive an update on their rape kit by phone or in person when online access is a much more convenient, private and survivor sensitive process.  I appreciate the strong support by legislators in both houses and on both sides of the aisle for this vital legislation and am hopeful that the Governor will again stand on the side of rape survivors by signing SB 215 into law.”

Jointly sponsored 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 country 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 has authored related legislation signed into law throughout her legislative career, including measures 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).