Backlog Of Untested Rape Kits Prompts Proposal From East Bay Lawmaker
OAKLAND (KCBS)— An unknown number of rape kits are sitting untested in crime labs throughout California, sometimes taking months or even years to process. To help rape victims get justice, a lawmaker from the East Bay has introduced legislation to speed up the process.
Authorities said too many rape kits, which collect the DNA of the perpetrators, are going untested by law enforcement agencies around California. According to Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, almost 2,000 rape kits in the county haven’t been tested.
By comparison New York City had nearly 17,000 and Detroit had more than 11,000 untested rape kits.
State Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) is introducing a bill that would get DNA evidence in sexual assault cases analyzed in a timely manner.
“To not test a rape kit is a second assault on the victim,” Skinner said.
O’Malley said her office has created a DNA cold-case unit that works directly with police agencies to help reduce the backlog.
“You see the definition right now at the federal level of a backlog is what’s in a crime lab, in a government crime lab. No one is talking about what’s hidden in the police departments,” O’Malley said.
Under proposed Assembly Bill 1517, law enforcement agencies would be asked to submit DNA evidence to a crime lab on a more aggressive time frame. Once processed, rape kit information would be linked to a national database.