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Measure Aims To Reduce Incidence Of Untested Rape Kits

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Aired 7/11/11

Rape kits are used to collect semen, hair, and other physical evidence from survivors of sexual assaults. But law enforcement doesn't test all of the kits. A measure in the state legislature aims to change that.

— A bill designed to encourage law enforcement to test more physical evidence from sexual assaults is moving through the state legislature. The measure aims to shed some light on the problem of untested rape kits.

Rape kits are used to collect semen, hair, and other physical evidence from survivors of sexual assaults.

The problem is many law enforcement agencies don't test the kits after they're collected. In 2008, it was revealed Los Angeles County was sitting on 10,000 untested rape kits.

Agencies say they don't have the money to do test every kit.

Phillip Ung, with the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, believes that's a poor excuse.

"I think we all know that every local jurisdiction in the state is going through some very tough fiscal issues" Ung said, "and you have to prioritize. Unfortunately, the law enforcement have not been prioritizing rape kits at the rate that we wish they would."

The pending measure would require police and sheriffs to report the number of rape kits they collect, and the number of kits they test.

California law doesn't require law enforcement to test all rape kits. Statewide in 2009, arrests were made in only 42 percent of all rape cases.

New York City tests all rape kits. Its arrest rate in rape cases is nearly 70 percent.

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