SACRAMENTO- Governor Brown today signed Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley)’s Assembly Bill 280, which will allow taxpayers to help reduce California’s rape kit backlog. AB 280 adds 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.
“Justice delayed is justice denied. Leaving rape kits untested is insulting and could prevent sexual predators from being held accountable for their crimes,” said Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley). “The Rape Kit Backlog Fund will help ensure more rape kits are tested and raise awareness about the issue. I want to thank my colleagues in the Legislature for supporting AB 280 and Governor Brown for signing it.”
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 adds 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 gives 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. “By signing AB 280, we thank Governor Brown for helping to eliminate the rape kit backlog that’s plagued sexual assault survivors for far too long. Each kit is a person, and this creative funding approach will help these survivors find justice and get dangerous serial predators out of our communities,” said California State Board of Equalization Member Fiona Ma, CPA.