Bill to Fund Testing of Backlogged Rape Kits Heads to Governor
SACRAMENTO- Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley)’s Assembly Bill 280, which will allow taxpayers to help reduce California’s rape kit backlog, passed the Assembly on concurrence today and now heads to the Governor. AB 280 would add a check-off box to personal income tax forms to allow taxpayers to donate a portion of their income tax return to accelerate the process of testing backlogged rape kits.
“There is no excuse for leaving critical evidence unexamined. The backlog of untested rape kits is insulting to survivors and could allow sexual predators to roam free,” said Assemblymember Evan Low. “Without a dedicated funding source in the budget, a voluntary rape kit contribution fund will allow California to begin testing these kits, help raise awareness of the issue, and bring justice to survivors of sexual assault.”
A rape kit examination is a painstaking, hours-long process where blood, urine, fingernail clippings, hair and swabs from the mouth, genitals and anus are collected. The survivor’s clothes and underwear are bagged as evidence and photos are taken. Once the nurses complete the kits, they are turned over to the police for evidence.
However, according to a 2014 California State Auditor report, thousands of rape kits in our state sit unanalyzed. As of 2016, there were approximately 400,000 rape kits backlogged nationally. In some California counties, there are as many as 1,900 untested rape kits still sitting on shelves in storage units while those victims continue their painfully long wait for justice.
The presence of a large rape kit backlog means that many survivors will never receive the justice they deserve because their key evidence is sitting in a storage room. Not only does the rape kit backlog affect survivors of sexual assault, it creates a safety risk for the community because the predators are still on the street.
Assembly Bill 280 would add a check-off box to personal income tax forms that allows taxpayers to donate a portion of their income tax return to the Rape Kit Backlog Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund. The bill would give taxpayers the option to help local governments fund the testing of these rape kits, which, in turn, can help keep our community safe.
The bill is sponsored by California State Board of Equalization (BOE) Member Fiona Ma, CPA. “As a long-time champion for sexual assault and domestic violence survivors, I’m partnering with Assemblymember Low to find a creative solution to get these rape kits tested and off the shelf. I urge the Governor to sign AB 280 to help bring survivors some semblance of closure, and put attackers behind bars,” said Board of Equalization Member Fiona Ma, CPA.
Governor Brown has until October 15 to sign AB 280.