SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — The Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday approved legislation that will require the addition of a new online portal to California’s existing rape kit tracking system to allow survivors of sexual assault to track information regarding their rape kit.

SB 215, authored by State Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino), has received strong bipartisan support, according to a press release issued by her office. The online portal would give victims a way to anonymously and electronically track the rape kit related to their case and receive updates regarding its status and location.

The measure will next move to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

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“SB 215 empowers rape survivors, strengthens public safety and prioritizes healing and justice,” Senator Leyva said in the release. “The fact that rape survivors in California must currently contact law enforcement agencies by phone or in person in order to receive an update on their rape kit is clearly not a survivor sensitive process and a reality that we must swiftly change. After they have already been sexually assaulted — and after they have bravely endured a long and invasive rape kit exam — it is absolutely crucial that we enable survivors to track the status of their rape kit anonymously and whenever they wish.”

Leyva previously authored legislation signed into law to eliminate the statute of limitations on rape (SB 813), criminalize sextortion (SB 500), ban secret settlements in cases of sexual assault, sexual harassment and sex discrimination (SB 820) and require the prompt testing of rape kits (SB 22).

SB 215 would add an online portal to California’s existing rape kit tracking system — the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Tracking (SAFE-T) database — to ensure an anonymous and uncomplicated option for survivors to learn important timely information regarding their rape kits.

California law currently states that law enforcement and forensic laboratories are required to use the California Department of Justice’s SAFE-T evidence system to maintain and update information about the location and testing status of all newly collected rape kits. Upon the request of a sexual assault
survivor, state statute specifies that the law enforcement agency shall inform the survivor of the status of the DNA testing of the rape kit evidence or other crime scene evidence from the survivor’s case.

Unfortunately, without a way for survivors to track their own rape kit online, this process is difficult and not private.

SB 215 is jointly sponsored by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, Joyful the Heart Foundation and Natasha’s Justice Project. Its passage would ensure that California joins over two dozen states across the U.S. that have already implemented similar online rape kit tracking portals.

The full list of states that have developed a rape kit tracking system is available on the End the Backlog website.