Update: California Rape Kit Bill Passes in State Senate; Seeks to Create Pilot Program for Processing Kits

A bill aimed at improving the backlog of untested rape kits in California has just passed in the California State Senate with a vote of 37-2.  It will now be voted on in the assembly before heading to the Governor’s desk.

We posted about the bill, AB 322, that was introduced in the California legislature in February, which seeks to process rape kits in California in a more timely manner. Since it has been introduced in the Assembly,  AB 322, has gone through several significant changes. While the legislation would still call on all jurisdictions to report the number of kits in custody that are not tested, instead of mandating state-wide testing of every kit, it would require some jurisdictions–those with very low rates for solving sexual assault cases–to test all kits in a state-mandated two-and-a-half year pilot program.

In the ten counties which would be part of the pilot program, fewer than 12 percent of rape cases are solved, Monrovia Patch reported in July. AB 322 would require law enforcement to test every rape kit they receive in an effort to improve these rates.

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena, has been pushing AB 322 through the legislature.

Portantino has introduced several bills aimed at reforming rape kit testing throughout the state of California in the past, first in response to the discovery of more than 12,000 untested rape kits in Los Angeles discovered in 2009. Despite approval within the legislature, these bills were vetoed by the former governor due to insufficient time and resources on the part of law enforcement. Portantino and advocates for rape kit testing believe that this reason is not good enough.

From a press release issued by Portantino’s office this summer:

“It’s unconscionable that thousands of rape kits remain unopened and untested across California. Rape kits hold vital evidence that is crucial to a criminal conviction, while the clock is ticking on the statute of limitation for these crimes. It’s frustrating to know that a rapist could be walking free and a victim who suffered is further disrespected because a vital piece of evidence went untested.”

Read more about the bill in the Pasadena Star News:

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