Joyful Heart Submits Testimony in Support of California Bill to Mandate Testing of All Rape Kits

For Immediate Release: April 3, 2018
Contact: Melissa Schwartz, media@endthebacklog.org

SACRAMENTO – This morning, Joyful Heart Foundation Managing Director Sarah Haacke Byrd testified before the California State Senate Public Safety Committee in strong support of Senate Bill 1449, which strengthens existing statute to ensure the timely submission and testing of sexual assault evidence kits and appropriates $2 million to help law enforcement agencies comply with the proposed amendments. In 2014, California enacted a law stating that law enforcement agencies “should” submit newly collected rape kits within 20 days. Due to the ambiguity of this language, agencies have adopted various interpretations of the law, and, far too often, do not send all kits for testing. This important legislation, sponsored by Senator Connie Leyva, would change the “should” to “shall” and for the first time add California to the growing list of states – now twenty – that require testing of all newly collected rape kits.

"Right now in California, whether or not a rape kit gets tested depends on a survivor’s the zip code. This is not acceptable. We can and must do better to bring dignity back into the system for victims across the state," testified Haacke Byrd. "By passing Senate Bill 1449 and changing the 'should' to a 'shall,' California will take dangerous violent offenders off the street and demonstrate a commitment to survivors to help them find a path to healing and justice."

In 2017, through Joyful Heart’s Accountability Project, open record requests were issued to eight California jurisdictions. Six out of eight (75%) are either not following the encouragement of the law or have no way of knowing how many kits in their possession. View today's testimony.

Joyful Heart has launched a national campaign to pass comprehensive rape kit reform legislation in all 50 states based on six pillars for reform. To date, California has passed only two of the six pillars of reform. Learn more about California’s progress.

Joyful Heart has created the premier national resource about the rape kit backlog, which includes an interactive map and resources for survivors, legislators, and the media. Learn more at: ENDTHEBACKLOG.org.

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The mission of the Joyful Heart Foundation is to transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors’ healing, and end this violence forever. www.joyfulheartfoundation.org

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