Two new bills aiming to address the backlog of rape kits in California are being considered by lawmakers in Sacramento. State Senator Connie Levya says by changing one word in the law, the legislature could mandate the testing of the rape kits.
"By saying that law enforcement agencies and forensic laboratories 'shall follow' instead of 'should follow' as it currently states," said Levya.
The state Senator has teamed up with her fellow legislator Assemblyman David Chiu to address the backlog and write legislation that would make the testing of the rape kits mandatory across the state. If SB 1449 is passed, it would enforce the submission of tests within 20 days of being collected, and testing of the sampled contained within no later than 120 days.
"This is an area where we are behind other states including TX and KY when it comes to eliminating the backlog. This should not be the case of the most populous state in our country. " - Assemb. @DavidChiu Help CA become a leader in rape kit reform: https://t.co/Po4u5rI9XV pic.twitter.com/QNRJucV1Wk— ENDTHEBACKLOG.org (@ENDTHEBACKLOG) May 15, 2018
The second bill, AB 3118, calls for a statewide inventory of the untested rape kits in California so that lawmakers can see the magnitude of the issue. Assemblymember Chiu says that sexual predators continue to roam the streets, placing other citizens in danger while rape kits languish in laboratories and storage facilities.
"When a rape kit remains untested, if it is sitting collecting dust in the backroom of a police crime lab, or on the shelf in a sheriff's department, it re-traumatizes survivors and allows criminals to roam free," said Chiu.
Levya says all rape survivors deserve the right to justice, but will never see it if their kits are never tested.
"The road to justice for survivors of rape and sexual assault will not be complete if these kits are never tested in the first place," Levya said.
One sexual assault survivor, Natasha Alexenko, told the legislators that her rape kit went untested for nearly a decade, which allowed her attacker to go on a crime spree across the country.
"I want to be one of the last people that gets up here behind a podium, and tells you that their rape kit was backlogged. I want to be the last person that stands behind a podium and asks you to please think of us and remember us," Alexenko said.
Photo: Getty Images