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In January 2015, the Attorney General's office issued an information bulletin to California law enforcement agencies, higher education administrators, and campus security personnel, providing enforcement guidance on new and amended sexual assault and campus safety laws. The bulletin summarized SB 967 (Senate pro Tempore Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles) and AB 1433 (Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale), which are described below. The bulletin also gave enforcement guidance in the context of existing state and federal statutes, and encouraged increased collaboration between law enforcement and campus authorities.
The two laws, passed in 2015, create reporting requirements and standards for campus disciplinary procedures.
SB 967 required California postsecondary institutions – in order to receive state funds for financial assistance – to adopt comprehensive, victim-centered policies and disciplinary procedures concerning sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Under the law, an institution's policy governing its campus disciplinary process must use an affirmative consent standard – defined as an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity – to determine whether a sexual assault complainant consented.
SB 967 required campuses to use a preponderance of the evidence standard when adjudicating complaints in the campus disciplinary process. This means the evidence must show it is "more likely than not" – i.e., greater than 50 percent likelihood – that the victim did not consent. The law also required postsecondary institutions to partner with campus and community organizations to refer both victims and perpetrators to health, counseling, advocacy, and legal services.
AB 1433 specified that as a condition for participation in the Cal Grant program, campus security authorities are required to immediately – or as soon as practicably possible – disclose to local law enforcement any report of a violent crime, hate crime or sexual assault, whether committed on or off campus.
AB 1433 built on existing state and federal requirements for campus and law enforcement collaboration. California law already required postsecondary institutions to enter into written agreements with local law enforcement agencies. The federal Clery Act also requires campus officials to contact local law enforcement to obtain accurate statistics about crimes reported on or near campus.
The DOJ, in collaboration with local law enforcement, offers training sessions to equip universities and colleges with information and best practices to handle campus sexual violence. Trainings take place frequently throughout the year at host institutions across the state. College and university administrators, campus police, and security personnel who are interested in receiving this training should contact the DOJ by emailing email@example.com.
DOJ has expanded its groundbreaking Rapid DNA Service program. Under the program, forensic hospital personnel collect body swabs from the assailant and send standard sexual assault evidence kits to the DOJ's DNA Laboratory in Richmond for processing and DNA typing. Within 15 working days, the evidence is imported into the CAL-DNA Data Bank and compared to more than 1.9 million offenders in California and 9.5 million offenders nationwide. In 2014, the program received the U.S. Department of Justice's Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services.
The Office of the Attorney General prioritized clearing the backlog of analyzing DNA crime scene evidence. The DOJ's Bureau of Forensic Services accomplished that goal through improved processes that resulted in DOJ labs turning around DNA analysis within a shortened timeframe – 30 to 90 days.
In September 2015, Attorney General's Office announced that the DOJ had been selected as an awardee of the Manhattan District Attorney's Initiative to eliminate backlogs of untested sexual assault evidence kits. The DOJ's Rapid DNA Service Team will receive $1.6 million over two years to test sexual assault evidence kits. The California Department of Justice is one of 32 agencies in 20 states to receive a grant. The DOJ currently assists 46 of the state's 58 counties in DNA analysis of sexual assault kits.
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