Los Angeles, California - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced that the California Attorney General’s office was selected as an awardee of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Initiative to eliminate backlogs of untested rape kits. The California Department of Justice’s Rapid DNA Service Team (RADS) will receive $1.6 million over two years to test sexual assault evidence kits.
The California Attorney General’s office is one of 32 agencies in 20 states to receive a grant. The funding will support the Attorney General’s continued efforts to test kits submitted by local law enforcement agencies that have a backlog of untested kits. The California Department of Justice currently assists 46 of the state’s 58 counties in DNA analysis of sexual assault kits.
“DNA testing is a powerful law enforcement resource – a smart on crime tool that we’ve used in cutting edge ways in California,” Attorney General Harris said. “Evidence of sexual assault is too important to sit dormant for months while victims await justice. This grant will allow us to use our Rapid DNA Service Team’s technology to assist more of our law enforcement partners across California in eliminating their sexual assault kit backlogs.”
In 2011, the RADS team, part of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Forensic Services, introduced new technology that dramatically increased the speed with which sexual assault kits can be tested. The program uses automation to reduce the processing time to within 20 days, down from six months from the start of analysis. This process includes the uploading of DNA profiles into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System to search for unknown suspects. In one year, the program eliminated a long-standing backlog of untested rape kits in state-run labs, which included 1,300 DNA cases.
In January 2012, Attorney General Harris announced that, for the first time ever, the backlog of untested DNA evidence in state labs had been eliminated. Since that time, the Department’s Bureau of Forensic Services has assisted counties in clearing their own backlogs.
In April 2014, the RADS program received the United States Department of Justice’s Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services.