March 7, 2019
The Governor of California
President pro Tempore of the Senate
Speaker of the Assembly
Sacramento, California 95814
Dear Governor and Legislative Leaders:
In October 2014, the California State Auditor issued Report 2014-109, Sexual Assault Evidence Kits: Although Testing All Kits Could Benefit Sexual Assault Investigations, the Extent of the Benefits Is Unknown. That report reviewed the process of collecting sexual assault evidence kits, which may contain DNA evidence that can assist in the investigation of sexual assault cases. It further discussed that, although there are concerns over large numbers of untested kits, the extent of the benefits of mandating the testing of all sexual assault evidence kits was unknown. One of the recommendations we made in the October 2014 report sought to increase the availability of case outcome information that would better demonstrate the extent of the benefits of testing all collected kits throughout the State. We indicated that the California Department of Justice (Justice) was uniquely positioned to provide such information because it operates the Rapid DNA Service (RADS) program, through which it already tests all kits collected in 39 counties.
The following report presents the results of a follow-up audit of Justice’s progress related to our October 2014 recommendation. This audit concludes that Justice has not made sufficient efforts to obtain case outcome information that could demonstrate the extent of the benefits of testing all collected sexual assault evidence kits. Justice established a database in which local law enforcement agencies can report case outcome information—such as whether they made arrests—for cases in which DNA evidence provided an investigative lead. However, Justice has obtained minimal amounts of this information because it has not notified many RADS participants that they should report the information, has not adequately trained participants on how to report, and does not periodically follow up with those that do not report. As a result, it has failed to provide valuable information that the State can use to determine the extent of the benefits of testing all sexual assault evidence kits.
This report also discusses significant barriers to the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases even when sexual assault evidence kits are tested. One such barrier is the insufficiency of resources available to investigate leads from DNA evidence. However, if the Legislature had case outcome information, it could better identify obstacles and act to direct resources to address them. Therefore, we recommend that if the Legislature amends state law to require testing of all sexual assault evidence kits, it should include a requirement that law enforcement agencies report case outcome information to Justice. If the Legislature does not amend state law to mandate testing, we recommend that it require Justice to obtain case outcome information from RADS participants and summarize that information in an annual report to the Legislature.
ELAINE M. HOWLE, CPA
California State Auditor