Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement

SIGN UP FOR MS. DIGEST, JOBS, NEWS AND ALERTS

FEMINIST WIRE NEWSBRIEFS

ABOUT
SEE CURRENT ISSUE
SHOP MS. STORE
MS. IN THE CLASSROOM
FEMINIST DAILY WIRE
FEMINIST RESOURCES
PRESS
JOBS AT MS.
READ BACK ISSUES
CONTACT
RSS (XML)
 
feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

August-02-02

LAPD Destroyed Evidence in Sexual Assault Cases; Reform of Police Procedure Urged

The Los Angeles Police Department has admitted that inadequate training caused the destruction of DNA evidence from over 1,100 sexual assault cases. Detectives allegedly ordered the destruction of all DNA evidence over six years old because they were unaware that the California statute of limitations for rape had been extended from six years to ten years in 2001. The new statute extends the potential prosecution period to ten years from the offense, or within one year after a suspect is identified. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office estimates that destruction and loss of DNA evidence may have occurred in over 4,000 unsolved sexual assault cases in Los Angeles County in the last six years. None of the destroyed evidence was ever analyzed. This lapse in police protocol not only adversely impacts the thousands of women whose cases remain unsolved, but also affects innocent people who may now not be able to overturn their convictions.

Lack of DNA analysis in sexual assault cases is a widespread problem in police departments. Many departments claim that they’re unable to analyze all of their DNA rape kits due to lack of funding and costly analysis procedures. Considering that an average rapist commits between 8-12 sexual assaults before he is arrested, immediate analysis of DNA evidence is crucial to protecting women. In some states it’s even leading to indictments based solely on DNA evidence, regardless of whether or not a suspect has been identified, thus allowing for prosecution even if an arrest is made decades after the indictment. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of New York has authored a bill which will improve and standardize the process by which law enforcement analyzes DNA evidence from sexual assaults. The Debbie Smith Bill , which has been cosponsored by more than 100 of Maloney’s congressional colleagues, will provide resources for police departments to address their backlog of unanalyzed DNA kits, and will encourage departments to analyze each kit within 10 days of receipt. It will also fund the training of law enforcement officers and sexual assault nurse examiners, and will federally mandate the standardization of the DNA kits throughout the country. The bill, and its counterpart in the Senate, are currently under review, although hearings in the house have not been scheduled. If approved, the new funding would significantly improve the handling of sexual assault cases in the U.S.

Media Resources: Los Angeles Times, 07/30/02 & 7/31/02


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.

 

 

Send to a Friend
Their
Your
Comments
(optional)


More Feminist News

7/31/2014 Massachusetts Enacts New Law to Protect Access to Reproductive Health Facilities - Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) signed into law yesterday a bill to help protect access to reproductive health care facilities in the state. The law, entitled An Act to Promote Public Safety and Protect Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities, enables a law enforcement official to order the "immediate dispersal of a gathering that substantially impedes access to or departure from an entrance or a driveway to a reproductive health care facility." The order would "remain in place for 8 hours or until the close of business of the reproductive health facility, whichever is earlier," and make noncompliance punishable with a fine or jail time. . . .
 
7/31/2014 First World Day Against Human Trafficking Encourages International Action - The first World Day against Trafficking in Persons took place Wednesday in an effort by the United Nations to bring attention to the continuing need for international support to help trafficking victims and end impunity for perpetrators. Millions of people are still trafficked every year, sold to work in brothels, fields, and sweatshops. . . .
 
7/30/2014 Fifth Circuit Court Rules In Favor Of Mississippi's Last Clinic - Mississippi's last remaining abortion clinic will remain open after a the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction against HB 1390, the Mississippi TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) law requiring abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at area hospitals. Had the court not upheld the lower federal's court's injunction, HB 1390 would have shuttered Jackson Women's Health Organization (JWHO), the state's only comprehensive reproductive health center. . . .