The Backlog:

California

We do not know the full size of the rape kit backlog in California. However, a partial count completed in 2015 revealed at least 6,125 kits. Additionally, a count completed in 2009 revealed at least 12,500 untested rape kits in Los Angeles County alone, all of which were tested by 2011. Legislation is currently pending.

History

In September 2015, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office announced the following grant recipients for rape kit testing:

- California Department of Justice (Bureau of Forensic Services DNA Lab) was awarded $1,606,239 in funding to test 2,000 rape kits;
- Alameda County District Attorney's Office was awarded $835,830 in funding to test 1,075 rape kits;
- Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office was awarded $1,841,535 in funding to test 2,400 rape kits;
- Riverside Police Department was awarded $433,800 in funding to test 650 kits.

In 2014, Governor Brown signed legislation to amend California's Sexual Assault Victims' DNA Bill of Rights in an effort to prevent future backlogs. The legislation encourages law enforcement agencies to submit newly collected rape kits for testing within 20 days of being booked into evidence and instructs the crime lab to process rape kit evidence as soon as possible, but no later than 120 days after receiving it. The legislation also amends the Bill of Rights to require law enforcement agencies to inform survivors, whether or not the identity of the perpetrator is known, if the law enforcement agency does not analyze the DNA evidence within certain time limits. Currently, such notification is required only in cases where the identity of the perpetrator is unknown. 

Current Legislation

In January 2015, legislators in California introduced AB-909which would require all law enforcement agencies to submit an annual report of the number of sexual assault kits that have been collected, tested and untested. The bill has passed the Assembly and one Senate Committee, and now awaits action from the full Senate.

AB1848, legislation that would mandate all law enforcement agencies in California to participate in a statewide rape kit tracking system called SAFE-T, already in use by the state California state Department of Justice (CALDOJ), is also pending in the legislature. And another bill, AB2499, would require CALDOJ to upgrade the SAFE-T system to give access to survivors so they can know the status of their rape kit. 

Since the 2014 legislation was signed into law, we have urged lawmakers in California to take additional steps towards comprehensive reform, including requiring that all rape kits booked into evidence are tested. This legislation currently pending is a step forward in California, and we will continue to monitor this reform and update this page it develops. 

Join us and take action today to advocate for transparency and change from our elected officials.

  • Backlog Status

Count
Partially Counted
Testing
In Testing
Resolved
Not Cleared
Size
6,125*

*This figure is a partial count of the total rape kit backlog, based on funding awarded by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office in September 2015.

  • Reform Status

Tracking Testing Victim Notification
No Known Reform
Reform in Progress
Partial Reform
Complete Reform
  • Additional Information

In addition to what we know about the backlog in Los Angeles and San Francisco, there is also information about the backlog from other jurisdictions in the state. 

According to a state audit report released in October 2014, of approximately 1,900 rape kits that the Oakland Police Department, San Diego Police Department and Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department received between 2011 and 2013, the departments tested just 850. 

In May 2013, Reporters uncovered more than 2,000 untested kits at police departments across Santa Clara County. The San Jose Police Department had over 1,800 untested kits in its property room. In the city of Santa Clara, the police collected 45 kits between 2009 and 2012, and sent seven for testing. The department had a total of 49 untested kits in its property room. The Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety collected 53 kits between 2009 and 2012, and sent 12 for testing. The department had 207 untested kits in its property room.

In March 2013, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office received a $1.5 million grant from Natasha's Justice Project to reduce the county's rape kit backlog. There were nearly 2,000 untested kits at police departments across the county. As of August 2014, the County had outsourced more than 100 of those kits for testing, resulting in 27 matches in the DNA database so far. 

Through The Accountability Project, we have discovered a backlog of 2,873 untested rape kits in San Diego, and are using public records requests to bring the number of untested kits in Fresno, Sacramento and San Jose to light.

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