Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton has announced an end to the backlog of untested sexual assault kits after the county was awarded a grant to speed the process.
The announcement came this past week during a trip to New York taken by Becton and her staff.
Becton’s office is a participant in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Elimination Grant Program, a three-year grant program to test sexual assault kits.
“Our office was one of 32 grantees funded, totaling $1,841,535 to test 1,246 kits since 2015,” Becton’s announcement said.
“The testing of these kits allowed for DNA evidence to be uploaded to the national DNA databank to assist in investigation and identity offenders,” the announcement said.
Speaking directly about her office’s participation, Becton said, “We partnered with 24 law enforcement agencies in our community to erase the backlog of sexual assault kits in Contra Costa County.”
Through the grant, Becton’s office collected untested kits from participating agencies and sent them to Sorenson Forensics in Utah, the announcement said.
The collaboration involved Sorenson, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s crime lab and her office, and should improve efficiency in processing testing of those kits, the statement said.
California state law requires law enforcement agencies to report timeframes to test the kits. If an agency chooses not to test, it must give the California Department of Justice substantiation for its decision, the statement said.
“Our office will continue to monitor the progress of all agencies in Contra Costa County to ensure state law is followed and no kits remain untested,” the statement said.
Overall, the Manhattan District Attorney’s program has tested 55242 kits, resulting in 18,803 DNA profiles being uploaded into the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).
The local results were 1k246 kits tested for DNA, covering samples taken from 1978 to 2016; 182 DNA profiles entered into CODIS, 122 confirmatory hits, 51 offender hits, eight cases reopened by law enforcement agencies for further review and the full compliance of all participating agencies, the statement said.
“I want to express my gratitude for our partners working with our office to end the backlog. Testing these kits can help bring closure and justice to sexual assault victims,” Becton said. “We are going to continue working on this issue to ensure we never have a backlog in our community again.”