A legislative measure aimed at putting more rapists behind bars passed another governmental hurdle when the Senate Public Safety Committee aproved it 7 to 0, Assemblyman Anthony Portantino's (D-La Cañada Flintridge) office announced Tuesday.
AB 322 would set time limits for crime labs to process rape kits that are used to present physical evidence in the prosecution of sexual assault offenders. Under Portantino's bill, law enforcement agencies would be required to report to the Department of Justice the number of rape kits they collect, the number that are the result of stranger-rape and the number of kits tested beginning when the law goes into effect.
The bill would further establish a two-and-a-half-year pilot project to test all rape kits in California counties that make arrests in fewer than 12 percent of the forcible rapes reported in that county.
In 2009, law enforcement agencies reported 8,698 forcible rapes in California, according to a statement from Portantino's office. Arrests were made in less than 24 percent of the cases. By comparison, New York City, which has a policy of testing all rape kits, has an arrest rate of roughly 70 percent, the statement read.
This is Portantino's third attempt at drafting legislation aimed at getting law enforcement agencies to process rape kits expeditiously. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger twice vetoed his earlier efforts.