Leyva Bill Requiring Rape Kit Testing Clears Senate

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SB  22   Supported  by  Survivor  Rights  and  Law Enforcement Organizations

SACRAMENTO – Without a single ‘No’ vote, the California State Senate passed legislation earlier today authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that will require law enforcement agencies and forensic laboratories to promptly analyze and test all newly collected rape kit evidence in California.

Sponsored jointly by the Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, Joyful Heart Foundation and Natasha’s Justice Project, SB 22 follows federal best practices and ensures that survivors reporting sexual assault across California will have equal access to the swift submission and analysis of forensic evidence associated with their cases.  The legislation will require newly collected rape kits to be submitted within 20 days and tested no later than 120 days after receipt, preventing the development of backlogs of rape kits in evidence rooms or laboratories.  The prompt testing of DNA evidence in rape kits can identify an unknown assailant, link crimes together, identify serial perpetrators and exonerate the wrongfully convicted.

“No survivor should ever have to wait years or even decades for their rape kit to be tested so that we can ensure justice and hold their rapists accountable for their crimes,” Senator Leyva said.  “After a survivor has already endured a thorough and invasive rape kit exam, it is unacceptable that the kit would then sit untested in an evidence room or locker collecting dust while it may hold critical evidence.  SB 22 will require that every single new rape kit that is collected is promptly analyzed so that the evidence collected can put rapists behind bars and hopefully prevent future assaults from ever happening.  I thank the Senate for its strong support of SB 22 today that will prioritize survivors, ensure safer communities and take dangerous criminals off our streets.”

Senator Leyva previously authored legislation signed into law to eliminate the statute of limitations on rape (SB 813) in 2016, to criminalize sextortion (SB 500) in 2017, and to ban secret settlements in cases of sexual assault, sexual harassment and sex discrimination in California (SB 820).

SB 22 is supported by the California Police Chiefs Association, Change for Justice, Los Angeles Indivisible, National Association of Social Workers / California Chapter, Riverside Sheriffs’ Association and Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee.  The measure now advances to the Assembly for consideration.

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