California to Require Faster Processing of Rape Kits

 California Gov. Jerry Brown today signed a bill to speed up rape kit DNA testing. The new law encourages law enforcement agencies to submit rape kits to the crime lab no later than five days after being booked into evidence. It also requires the crime lab to process kits it receives, create DNA profiles when possible, and upload them into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) within 30 days after they are received from law enforcement. Law enforcement agencies will also be required to inform victims of certain sexual assault crimes if the law enforcement agency decides not to analyze the evidence within the given time limits.

DNA double helix

“RAINN strongly supported this legislation,” says Rebecca O’Connor, vice president for public policy. “We’re happy to see California join Colorado, Illinois and Texas in passing such legislation. But thousands of rape kits sit in limbo in evidence rooms and crime labs across the country, so other states need to act quickly.”

To address this, RAINN has joined with the National Center for Victims of Crime and Natasha’s Justice Project to form the Rape Kit Action Project, which helps state legislators create similar legislation.

“Victims who submit to extensive, intrusive examinations reasonably expect the evidence to be processed. A failure to do so represents a lost opportunity to hold rapists accountable and prevent future crimes,” said O’Connor. “We applaud enactment of this law, which will advance the important goals of protecting public safety, identifying sex offenders, and bringing justice to survivors, and urge other states to speed up their handling of DNA testing in rape cases.”

To learn more about RAINN’s work to address the rape kit backlog and to get involved, visit our Action Center and sign up to receive our policy updates.

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