The Backlog:

California

On September 30, 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, beginning on January 1, 2016, to submit newly collected rape kits for testing within 20 days of being booked into evidence. The law also instructs the crime lab to process rape kit evidence as soon as possible, but no later than 120 days after receiving it. 

Regarding victim notification, the legislation 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. 

In January 2015, additional legislation was introduced that would require all law enforcement agencies to submit an annual report of the number of sexual assault kits that were collected, tested, and untested. The bill has passed one committee and has been re-referred to a second committee.

Although the state has made progress in rape kit reform, we still do not know the extent of the backlog in California—there is only information about the backlog at the local level, which is posted below. Like most states, California does not require its law enforcement agencies to track or count rape kits, making it difficult to know the extent of the rape kit backlog here. However a growing number of states, all across the country, are making real reforms to end the backlog. This can happen in California, too. Take action today to advocate for transparency and change from our elected officials.

  • Backlog Status

Count
Unknown
Testing
Testing Status Unknown
Resolved
Unknown
Size
?
  • 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 are using public records requests to bring the number of untested kits in San Diego to light.

 

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