SACRAMENTO – The Senate Public Safety Committee today approved a legislative plan by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner to specify guidelines for the testing of rape kits and for entering the information into a national DNA database. The measure passed by a vote of 5 to 0.
“Rape kits contain the essential evidence from a rape or sexual assault. Leaving these kits on the evidence shelf has to stop,” Assemblymember Skinner of Berkeley said after AB 1517 received enough votes for passage by the Senate Public Safety Committee. “Sending rape kits to the lab quickly tells the survivor we care, helps law enforcement solve this and other crimes and makes all of us safer.”
Sexual assault advocates and prosecutors, including Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O'Malley and CALCASA Executive Director Sandra Henriquez testified in support of AB 1517.
AB 1517 would amend the Sexual Assault DNA Victims' Bill of Rights to specify guidelines for law enforcement to forward rape kits to labs within 10 days and for labs to process rape kits and enter DNA profile information into CODIS, the national database of DNA profiles, within 60 days.
The testing of rape kits has proven to be a powerful tool for linking cold cases and bringing justice to sexual assault survivors. In 2003, New York City tested its backlog of 17,000 rape kits and ushered in a new policy to test all rape kits in police evidence. As a result, the arrest rate in New York City jumped from 40 percent to 70 percent, well above the national average of 24 percent.
Elected in 2008, Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) represents the 15th Assembly District, which includes Hercules, Pinole, El Sobrante, San Pablo, Richmond, El Cerrito, Kensington, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont and parts of Oakland. Skinner serves as Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee.