Lawmakers Push to End Rape Kit Backlog

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SACRAMENTO -- A rape kit can provide the answers that can lead to an arrest and closure for victims. Yet, lawmakers and advocates say there's a huge backlog in California.

On Monday, they gathered to bring attention to that issue in hopes of creating new laws that can help victims by testing rape kits.

"There are thousands of them sitting on police shelves and each kit represents a victim, a woman or a man, waiting for their day in court, justice to be served, and these kits just aren't being tested," said Fiona Ma, a member of the State Board of Equalization.

State Senator Connie Leyva, D-Chino, recently introduced a bill, SB 1449, that says law enforcement should submit evidence to a lab within 20 days and labs should process the rape kits within 140 days.

The legislation also sets aside $2 million to help law enforcement agencies process rape kits.

"There should be no time limit on justice and if a rape kit is not tested then that perpetrator can't be brought to justice, and that victim can't become a survivor," Leyva said.

Assemblymember David Chiu has a bill, AB 3118, requiring a statewide audit of existing rape kits.

The group also screened a new HBO documentary called "I Am Evidence," which exposes the issue through stories of sexual assault survivors.

Lawmakers say every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. They hope these new laws can bring some peace to those victims.

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