California legislators pass measure that would require all rape kits to be tested soon after collection

Rape kits from 2017.

Rape kits from 2017. (Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

A bill sent to the governor on Friday would require the swift testing of all rape kits in California.

Under Senate Bill 1449 by state Sen. Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino), law enforcement would have to send DNA evidence collected in every sexual assault case to a crime lab within 20 days. The lab would then need to process the evidence within four months, or send it to another lab within one month. 

California currently has thousands of untested rape kits. Officials sometimes skip testing when it would not help an investigation — when a victim drops charges or a suspect has already pleaded guilty, for example. But failing to test the kits could cause law enforcement to miss connections to previous crimes, supporters of the bill argue.

“All survivors deserve to have their rape kits tested promptly, which in turn can help ensure justice for survivors, identifying serial perpetrators and even exonerating the wrongfully convicted,” Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) said.

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