New Assembly Bill Targets Rape Kit Backlog in the State of California

January 21, 2014 · 33 comments

State Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner announced new legislation this morning that would address the backlog of rape kits sitting untested on police evidence shelves statewide.

At a news conference today, Skinner called the backlog “a second assault” on victims. She pointed out that the victims have to undergo an invasive physical exam following an attack, and that it is unacceptable that the
evidence then “languishes” on a shelf.

To expedite testing, Skinner has written Assembly Bill 1517 with state Assemblyman Rob Bonta, and other legislators. The bill sets time limits for law enforcement agencies and forensics labs to process evidence collected from victims after sexual assaults.

The bill stipulates that sexual assault forensic evidence must be sent to a crime lab within five days after it is booked into evidence by a law enforcement agency.

The crime lab would then have to process the evidence and upload DNA profiles to the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, within 30 days.

Bonta called the backlog “an affront to our justice system” that allows perpetrators of sex assaults to remain on the streets.

Sandra Henriquez, executive director of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said the collection of evidence from victims should not be done in vain.

“Hopefully (the bill) prevents crime in the future,” she said.

Heather Marlowe, a sexual assault survivor who spoke at today’s news conference, said her rape kit took more than two years to be processed.

She said she was drugged and raped at the Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco in 2010. After a year, she hadn’t heard back from police about the DNA from her case, even after a suspect had been identified.

Marlowe, an actor and playwright, later wrote a play about the long wait.

“I felt absolutely powerless,” she said.

Eventually, her kit was tested after two years, she said. She has since gone before the San Francisco Police Commission and requested an audit of her case to examine how it was handled.

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1 Ted K., Supermax January 21, 2014 at 4:13 PM

An excellent example of how law enforcement is failing to protect the general health, safety, and welfare of the public.

2 Atticus Thraxx January 21, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Good idea. But without providing funding it’s a useless gesture. Think these aren,t being processed because of laxinees or lack of concern? I don’t.

3 What happens? January 21, 2014 at 4:35 PM

What happens if the law passes and then the kits don’t get processed on time? The rapist goes free?

4 Mr. Moses January 21, 2014 at 4:35 PM

Wow…didn’t know it was that bad or that there was a problem. Like everyone else I’m cynical about our politicians, but I think this is a good cause to champion. It really is sick that someone would have to wait 2 years…TWO years to get their kit tested!

This is one of the primary ways to fight rapists. Many rapes are not reported or solved, but because rapists are oftentimes repeat offenders building a database will help to net them in the future (whether they commit another rape or other crime). The more entries in the database increases the size of the net.

5 gimli January 21, 2014 at 4:50 PM

PD should check who’s on duty and escort the lady over to the gentlemen’s house with her AK fully loaded.

6 Cowellian January 21, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Sure, it’s a great idea, but unless the State is providing the money, it’s just one more unfunded mandate dumped on local governments.

7 Too Much To Ask January 21, 2014 at 5:08 PM

Assembly Bill No. 1517 Introduced by Assembly Member Skinner
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Buchanan, Melendez, Olsen, and Waldron)
(Coauthor: Senator Hill)

Would think someone running for Congress would be all over law n order legislation. OH that’s right he voted back in 2011 to make State Prison Over Crowding into a Local problem, housing convicted Felons in County Jails.

8 Danielle January 21, 2014 at 5:09 PM

An excellent idea. Hopefully the state will provide the funding.

9 anon January 21, 2014 at 5:16 PM

i think bill is going in a good direction if there is funding to back it. my rape kit sat on a shelf waiting to be tested for 16 months when the cpd detective called me and said there was usable dna found. the rape kit itself is a VERY invasive test, after having being assaulted, its almost like a 2nd assault. cpd told me from the start of this it would be a very long process, probably 1-2 years. ugh…

10 Dorothy January 21, 2014 at 5:24 PM

Needs lots of funding. Funding for the medical people who will have to deal with the victim while explaining what they need to do with the kit. Funding for the kits and making sure all medical facilities have a good supply of the kits. Funding for the technicians needed to process the kits in a timely manner. And funding for even more technicians to work on that back-log of unprocessed kits.

11 anon January 21, 2014 at 5:40 PM

Rapists are recidivists. Processing the rape kits allows a DNA data bank to be established at the very least of offenders who are most probably looking for their next opportunity to rape an innocent victim. Ongoing funding should be at the forefront of state AND local budgets.

12 Cassandra January 21, 2014 at 5:43 PM

It’s no wonder women are afraid to come forward after a sexual assault. Sitting on a shelf for years?

I hope the state has the funding to back this bill up.

13 #1 NRA fan and member January 21, 2014 at 5:52 PM

Waste of my tax dollars. Buy every woman a gun instead and see how fast rape goes away.

14 Regardless January 21, 2014 at 6:29 PM

of who what or where, we need the money for this
and we need it now!
Screw all the political BS, Dem.or Rep. Fault.
Get these violent predators DNA in the data bank!
It has proven people innocent and it will convict
the guilty!

15 Anon January 21, 2014 at 7:17 PM

Anyone bother to ask why these aren’t being processed in a timely manner? Could it be they aren’t needed in most cases, or maybe the back log of (sadly) more violent crimes? Better yet let’s just let this worthless politician get some brownie points for doing nothing to really help anyone. Status quo, aye aye!

16 Antler January 21, 2014 at 7:18 PM

And in two whole years, how many OTHER women or men could the perp have raped!!!

17 Anon January 21, 2014 at 7:20 PM

@Regardless

I assume you represent the average reader here, so let me remind you and them, in this country we have the presumption of innocence. That manes an American citizen is presumed to be innocent until he is proven guilty. Maybe those aren’t the laws you are used to, in your home country.

18 shelly January 21, 2014 at 7:22 PM

Holy S%#T !!! That’s just UNBELIEVEABLE.

19 ANON January 21, 2014 at 8:37 PM

You would think with all the Females in power in politics–this would not happen–but it did
I am ashamed of our people in power–what a joke.

20 Cowellian January 21, 2014 at 8:40 PM

I’m a big fan of the presumption of innocence, but I don’t see what that has to do with the value of DNA evidence.

And as far as the reason for the massive backlog, I suspect it’s a lack of funding. And this bill is probably not going to do a thing to make that any better.

21 WC Resident January 21, 2014 at 8:48 PM

Now that this is being noticed, I am sure they are going to get their act together. No excuse, and it is not a lack of funding I am sure. You all watch and see how these morons are going to be accountable for their
neglect. Sick of this.

22 Craig January 21, 2014 at 9:16 PM

Is it lack of funding or lack of caring? Or both. Law enforcement has never taken rape seriously. It’s getting better, but this is ridiculous.

23 Dr. Jellyfinger January 21, 2014 at 9:24 PM

There’s a kit for that?

24 VikingPrincess January 21, 2014 at 10:26 PM

Forget a law or bill

Fine them for everyday late, if that doesn’t work find another person to do it that actually cares to do the job.

25 @anon January 22, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Your comment is par for your course.
Which ever anon you are.
If I were in the position of being accused of rape I
would have no problem with DNA being taken
as an aide to proving my innocence.
But of course you retreat to nonsense to try and
divert a serious discussion about anything that
scares or threatens your intellectual paranoia.
And on a side note, I’m a Vietnam Era vet.
how bout you ?

26 Bad Mgmt? January 22, 2014 at 8:45 AM

Maybe it’s not being performing in a timely manner because of bad management. Before we go asking for more money let’s research the current process. That’s what we do in private business…. we don’t just hire more people…. geez. Can we vote in people that have real business experience please!

27 Mac January 22, 2014 at 9:02 AM

i just hope stories like this, don`t make some sick males into thinking they can get away with it now. (sick-o`s don`t use common sense)
Anyone who rapes another person, should have his package cut off, while wearing hand cuffs.
And let him watch himself bleed to death.

No excuse, no mercy

28 jtkatec January 22, 2014 at 9:21 AM

Glad this issue has been brought to light.

1) How much does this DNA test cost to run?

If there’s a backlog with labs law enforcement use, what about sourcing out to other qualified labs.

29 anon January 22, 2014 at 9:32 AM

I have wondered for quite awhile, when we are told that there isn’t enough money to pay for someone to take fingerprints or process a dna kit, we aren’t given the option of funding it ourselves. I am not trying to give the rich more power, but am giving the average person the option of completing an investigation. All victims should be given the option to fund their own investigation, if red tape and mismanagement of funds is an issue. Friends of victims would also be allowed to contribute. I can’t believe that this simple solution has never been thought of before. I seriously question whether some people just don’t want to be responsible to perform their jobs like those of us in the private sector. If you are going to delay justice because of a real or manufactured cost, there is a SIMPLE solution.

30 shelly January 22, 2014 at 9:47 AM

My attack predates the rape kit, so I just looked it up, and it’s so much more than I imagined it to be. To do the right thing and subject yourself to further hours of violation in the interest of justice and prevention of future victims after surviving an attack of one of the sickest kinds, in my case child rape, is OUTRAGEOUS beyond words. Anybody tries it with me again won’t live long.

31 Idiocracy January 22, 2014 at 10:41 AM

2 years ? That’s just Garbage.

32 VikingPrincess January 22, 2014 at 11:02 AM

If you went to a lab for tests the doctor ordered and no results after two years and their excuse is funding or poor management? Would that be acceptable? If they offered you to pay on addition to the affordable rate you pay now would that be acceptable?
NO. Terrible option.
We pay taxes. No excuse. The victim is being victimized.

Find an outside source that will get this done.

33 VikingPrincess January 22, 2014 at 11:06 AM

If any of these delays in processing kept those involved from their right to a speedy trial OR conviction at all…I think the DA should look at it and rattle their cage. Its a crime.

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