Tens of thousands of rape kits are sitting on shelves in police and sheriff’s department evidence rooms nationwide. And no one has tested them to see what crimes they could help solve.
A bill by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) would help determine how many of those unanalyzed exam kits exist in California, part of a national backlog that federal officials have grappled with for nearly two decades.
Assembly Bill 41 would require law enforcement agencies to report to the state how many sexual assault kits they collected and have examined, and how many they haven’t — along with the reason why the evidence wasn’t tested. It has sailed through the legislative process but could face a battle in the state Senate, facing heavy opposition from the California State Sheriffs’ Assn., which says the financial burden would fall on law enforcement agencies to collect the new data.
Chiu argues that improved reporting would help determine which law enforcement departments need more resources to test kits, and provide greater transparency around a procedure that can last hours and is intrusive for victims.
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