SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — A bill by a Berkeley Assemblywoman that would provide timeframes for testing rape kits and entering the information into a national DNA database was unanimously approved by an Assembly committee Tuesday.
Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner’s AB 1517 would amend the state’s Sexual Assault Victims’ DNA Bill of Rights to specify that law enforcement agencies should submit rape kits for testing within five days and that forensic laboratories should submit the information from rape kits to CODIS, the national database of DNA profiles, within 30 days.
At hearing before the Assembly Public Safety Committee Tuesday chaired by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, Skinner, D-Berkeley, said there are a large number of sexual forensic evidence kits languishing in evidence rooms in law enforcement agencies around the state, untested. One estimate puts the number of untested rape kits at around 400,000 nationally.
“We are finding that the focus has been on crime labs but there are too many rape kits sitting in evidence rooms that never make it to the crime lab,” Skinner said.
In an audit launched in June 2011, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley determined that there were 1,900 untested rape kits in Alameda County alone.
O’Malley, who testified Tuesday in favor of Skinner’s bill, told the committee that only 21 percent of all rapes result in an arrest in California.
“There are reasons to test every single kit,” O’Malley said. “We have far too many examples of stranger rapes where the crime has been solved through the database, and marital rapes where the accused has been tied to a stranger rape.”