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California Bill Aimed At Reducing Backlog Of Untested Rape Kits Passes Committee

SACRAMENTO (KPIX 5) — At the State Capitol Friday, legislators took a big step towards helping rape victims get long overdue justice.

After three tries, a bill to require local governments to report the number of untested rape kits is finally one vote away from passing.

"For thousands of victims who have not had answers, have no had justice, today was a great day," said Assemblyman David Chiu, (D-San Francisco).

Chiu is the sponsor of the bill.

"We've had a very significant coalition of survivors of sexual assault, district attorneys, other members of law enforcement who have wanted more accountability, more transparency for why we've had such a massive backlog of rape evidence kits," said Chiu.


Rape kits are invasive and often traumatic in their own right, as Doctor Angela Vickers explained to KPIX 5 last July.

We take photographs of the entire body, as far as the different injuries, Vickers said. And we take photographs of the genitals and the anus area

Right now in California, after a victim endures the collection of DNA and evidence, the kit does not have to be tested and law enforcement doesn't have to tell the victims why.

One survivor who submitted to a rape kit told KPIX 5 the detectives simply stopped returning her calls.

I don't know if it was ever tested, the victim said.

But ab 41 requires law enforcement agencies to report the number of untested rape kits and allows survivors to know the status of their kits.

Bills like ab 41 were introduced in 2015 and 2016, but they both died here, in the Senate Appropriations Committee because the chairman, Ricardo Lara, refused to allow the bills to come up for a vote.

On Friday, he voted for it.

It passed unanimously.

Senator Scott Wiener, who is also on the committee, was a firm supporter of the bill.

It's a huge problem that we have so many untested kits and this bill will create better accountability, said Wiener.

The bill still has to be voted on by the full senate and signed by Governor Jerry Brown, but at so far there hasn't been a single vote against it.

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