Chairman Salas Holds Oversight Hearing on Sexual Assault Evidence Kits
Legislation introduced to test all sexual assault evidence kits and increase reporting
SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), Chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC), held an oversight hearing on Sexual Assault Evidence Kits. JLAC, the Assembly Subcommittee No. 5 on Public Safety and Senate Subcommittee No. 5 on Corrections, Public Safety and the Judiciary joined to discuss two audit reports that examined the processing and analysis of sexual assault evidence kits by local law enforcement agencies and their associated crime labs, as well as the reporting and tracking of case outcome information by the Department of Justice for its Rapid DNA Service (RAD) program.
The first report was released in October 2014: Sexual Assault Evidence Kits: Although Testing All Kits Could Benefit Sexual Assault Investigations, the Extent of the Benefit Is Unknown (Report Number 2014-109) and the most recent report was released in March of this year: Follow-Up Sexual Assault Evidence Kits: California Has Not Obtained the Case Outcome Information That Would More Fully Demonstrate the Benefits of Its Rapid DNA Service Program (Report No. 2018-501).
“We can all agree on the importance of forensic DNA as a tool to help solve and prevent crime and bring justice to victims,” said Assemblymember Salas. “It is shocking that sexual assault evidence kits remain unanalyzed and that investigators rarely document reasons why the kits are left untested. These kits contain evidence that could benefit other investigations and provide justice to victims. Accountability, transparency, and tracking of the evidence kits is critical. Our continued discussions on the issue will yield reform and results that will help guide our next steps and budget needs.”
Two bills introduced in the Legislature this session, Senate Bill (SB) 22 and Assembly Bill (AB) 358, target the processing and modernization of sexual assault evidence kits. SB 22 would respectively require that law enforcement agencies and forensic laboratories promptly analyze and test all newly collected sexual assault evidence kits and AB 358 would incorporate recommendations from the California State Auditor to require that law enforcement agencies report hit outcomes on sexual assault evidence matched with profiles in the California Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) to the Department of Justice’s CODIS Hit Outcome Project (CHOP) database.
- Every 92 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted.
- A forcible rape occurs every 6.2 minutes in the United States.
- Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 72 men have been raped at some time in their lives.
Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Hanford, Corcoran, Delano, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Avenal, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch.