Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced this week that the California Attorney General’s office will receive the United States Department of Justice’s Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services for its successful efforts to improve the DNA analysis of rape kits by law enforcement agencies.
The California Attorney General’s Rapid DNA Service Team (RADS) will receive the award during the Department of Justice’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Service Awards ceremony on April 9th in Washington, D.C.
“Victims of sexual assault deserve swift justice,” Attorney General Harris said. “The Rapid DNA Service Team’s technology gives law enforcement a critical tool to quickly identify perpetrators and prevent these dangerous individuals from victimizing more people. On behalf of all Californians, I thank our RADS team for their innovation and dedication.”
The RADS Team, part of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Forensic Services, developed a program in 2011 that improves the traditional process by which rape kits are tested and reduces the processing time to within 15 days. This program currently operates in eight counties across the state including Butte, Lake, Marin, Napa, Sonoma, Solano, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.
The program allows for the processing of evidence from sexual assault cases within 15 days from the start of analysis and uses automation to reduce processing time, allowing for a threefold increase in casework capacity. This process includes the upload of DNA profiles into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System to search for unknown suspects.
In her first year in office, Attorney General Harris eliminated a long standing backlog of untested rape kits in state-run labs, which included 1,300 DNA cases. Along with committing additional resources to the labs, Attorney General Harris introduced new technology that dramatically increased the speed with which cases are analyzed.
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.