DA O’Malley Sponsors Legislation to Allow Survivors of Sexual Assault to Track Evidence Kits

Oakland, CA- DA O’Malley today announced introduction of sponsored legislation requiring the creation of an online portal that would allow survivors to receive updates on the status of their sexual assault evidence kits. The portal, which would be added to an existing tracking system used by law enforcement, would allow victims to track the kit anonymously to learn about its location and whether the kit has been tested. SB 215 is authored by Senator Leyva (D-Chino), who has partnered with DA O’Malley in the past on several pieces of legislation advocating for the rights of sexual assault survivors.

“Sexual assault survivors should have the right to know whether their evidence kits have been tested,” said DA O’Malley. “After bravely undergoing an exam after an assault, this bill will provide survivors with the ability to track the kit to ensure that law enforcement is doing their statutory duty to analyze the evidence in a timely manner. I want to thank Senator Leyva for authoring this important legislation as well as co-sponsors the Joyful Heart Foundation and Natasha’s Justice Project for continuing to prioritize the rights of sexual assault survivors.”

SB 215 would add to the existing sexual assault kit tracking system- the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Tracking (SAFE-T) database- by creating an electronic access point for survivors to receive information about their kits. Although California law currently mandates the tracking of kits and access to that information for victims, there is not a system in place that allows victims to electronically request a kit’s status in a streamlined way while remaining anonymous. The establishment of a tracking system for kits in California is built upon precedent from over two dozen states across the nation that have already implemented similar tracking websites.

“SB 215 empowers rape survivors by making sure that they know where their kit is in the process,” Senator Leyva said. “We have all heard the countless stories of survivors finding out years after the rape kit was collected that the kit itself was never processed and actually sat on a shelf in a lab somewhere for years gathering dust. After having been raped and then undergoing an invasive rape kit exam, a survivor should certainly be able to track the status of the rape kit anonymously and whenever they would like. In late 2019, the Governor signed my SB 22, which now requires the prompt testing of rape kits. SB 215 is the logical next step so that rape survivors can remain informed- and we can continue to ensure justice by holding rapists accountable for their crimes.”

This legislation is the next step after several successful bills sponsored by DA O’Malley to defend and empower survivors of sexual assault. In 2020, DA O’Malley cosponsored AB 1927, which protects sexual assault survivors from separate prosecution for drug and alcohol related crimes that occurred at the time of the assault. In 2019, DA O’Malley sponsored SB 22, also authored by Senator Leyva, which now requires the prompt testing of sexual assault evidence kits.

Additionally, DA O’Malley sponsored two chaptered bills with Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) in 2018 that aided victims of sexual assault. AB 41 mandated the reporting of information regarding kits to the SAFE-T database in order to track movement of kits throughout the testing process. AB 3118 require all law enforcement and crime lab facilities to conduct an audit of all untested kits, to be completed by 2019. Assemblymember Chiu has signed on to be a principal co-author of SB 215.

Posted on Jan 13, 2021