Use the links below to navigate to the response and the comments:
- California Department of Justice
February 19, 2019
621 Capitol Mall, Suite 1200
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: California State Auditor Report 2018-501; Follow-Up – Sexual Assault Evidence Kits
Dear Ms. Howle,
This letter serves as the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) response to the California State Auditor’s (CSA) report titled “ Follow-Up – Sexual Assault Evidence Kits: California Has Not Obtained the Case Outcome Information That Would More Fully Demonstrate the Benefits of its Rapid DNA Service Program. ”
The DOJ has reviewed the report and appreciates the opportunity to respond to the report. While the audit report notes several areas in need of improvement, DOJ maintains that it fully implemented the recommendation under consideration:
Report 2014-109, CSA Recommendation #4: To report to the Legislature about the effectiveness of its RADS program and to better inform decisions about expanding the number of analyzed sexual assault evidence kits, Justice should amend its agreement s with the counties participating in the RADS program to require those counties to report cas e out c ome information such as arrests and convictions for the sexual assault evidence kits Justice h as an a l yz ed under the program. Justice should then report annually to the Legislature about those case outcomes.
The effectiveness of the Rapid DNA Service (RADS) program has been demonstrated in the number of Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) hits generated since the inception of the program and in the rapid turnaround that the program established for generating those hits.
DOJ did modify the agreements – Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) – based on CSA’s previous recommendation to incorporate the language to require the reporting of case outcomes.
DOJ’s responsibility for obtaining the information from local agencies was not specifically stated in this recommendation. The recommendation only addressed DOJ’s responsibility to report to the legislature on case outcomes. The reporting of case outcomes was incomplete due to a lack of input by the local agencies.
We concur with the audit recommendation that the Legislature require law enforcement agencies to report key case outcome data to DOJ. DOJ will continue to support this effort through the following activities:
- A new physical evidence bulletin specifically addressing the RADS program and the expectations for local law enforcement agencies that use DOJ BFS services
- In accordance with the law that became effective in January 2018, DOJ will compile and report local law enforcement data related to RADS
DOJ agrees that there can be clarification and better training for participants who need to input case outcome information. However, because of program changes and responsibilities to other enacted legislation, the recommendations cannot be implemented without additional program support for DOJ’s already strained resources. DOJ’s program already maintains the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Tracking (SAFE-T) database, the CODIS Hit Outcome Project (CHOP) database, and the California Arrestee (CAL-DNA) Data Bank program, and it provides outreach and communication to local law enforcement who are in need of information on the arrestee program as well as supplies. In addition, program staff aid with sexual assault victim notification and questions related to PC 680, the Sexual Assault Victims’ DNA Bill of Rights. DOJ implemented SAFE-T and CHOP despite the fact that no additional resources were allocated for this via the budget process.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to review and comment on the draft audit report. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, you may contact me at the telephone number listed above.
for BARRY MILLER, Director
Bureau of Forensic Services
for Xavier Becerra
CALIFORNIA STATE AUDITOR’S COMMENTS ON THE RESPONSE FROM CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
To provide clarity and perspective, we are commenting on Justice’s response to the audit. The numbers below correspond to the numbers we have placed in the margin of its response.
here of a case in which a hit assisted the investigation and one in which the hit did not appear to assist law enforcement in making an arrest. Here, we explain that obtaining information on the extent that hits generated by the RADS program benefited sexual assault case investigations and prosecutions is crucial to understanding the full benefit of the program.
here, Justice did not have MOUs with 23 of the 39 counties that participate in the RADS program, and Justice was unable to provide evidence that it had made any other effort to notify counties without MOUs that they should report case outcome information. Further, we discuss on here that for most of the counties that did have MOUs, Justice had not obtained signatures from some or all of the law enforcement agencies in the county. Finally, as we state here, RADS participants are unlikely to report case outcome information if they are unaware that Justice expects them to do so.
here, Justice was unable to provide us with any analysis demonstrating that it lacks staffing or resources to conduct regular follow‑up activities to obtain case outcome information. Further, there are steps that Justice can take to improve case outcome reporting that are not likely to take large amounts of staff time or require Justice to build new capabilities into its CHOP system. For instance, we state here that automated messages generated through the CHOP system could increase the frequency with which RADS participants update case outcome information. As we explain on that page, Justice’s acting assistant bureau director confirmed that CHOP already has the ability to generate these types of messages.