Monday, June 27

San Francisco police use rape kit DNA to identify suspects in other crimes, district attorney says

In an interview with The Washington Post, Boudin read the police department’s lab report, which said that “during a routine search of the SFPD Crime Lab Forensic Biology Unit Internal Quality Database, a match was detected and verified. Direct comparisons with the samples listed below were performed,” listing the 2016 rape kit sample.

The language suggested that the practice was routine and not an isolated incident, Boudin said, and the head of the crime lab confirmed to his office that such searches are done regularly. The SFPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday evening. Boudin said he had briefly spoken to SFPD Chief William Scott, who told him that he would look into the matter.

Boudin said his office was “committed to not using this sort of evidence” to prosecute crimes, “both on ethical grounds and also on legal grounds.”

Using a survivor’s DNA to identify them as a suspect in another case is a “pretty clear” violation of the California Constitution, Boudin said, which mandates the “prompt return of property when no longer needed as evidence.”

“In this case, it’s no longer being used to prosecute the person who committed the sexual assault and should be destroyed or returned,” he said. Boudin also suggested it could be in violation of the US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which protects people’s rights “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

“If survivors believe their DNA may end up being used against them in the future, they’ll have one more reason not to participate in the rape kit process,” State Sen. Scott Wiener (D) said in a statement, adding that he would “address this problem through state legislation, if needed.”

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Hillary Ronen (D), a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, said in a statement Monday she had asked the city attorney to draft legislation that would make it illegal for evidence collected from a rape kit to be used for “anything other than investigating that rape.”

The use and storage of rape kit evidence, Boudin said, “without the consent or knowledge of the victims and for purposes totally unrelated to the original sexual assault does real damage to the trust that we need from folks who survived sexual assault, and whose cooperation my office needs to be able to prosecute and hold accountable for causing harm.”

San Francisco, like many cities across the country, has struggled with a backlog of rape kits. Statewide, nearly 14,000 rape kits in California have yet to be tested, according to End the Backlog, a project of the Joyful Heart Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for reform of the societal response to sexual assault.

Boudin said he had not spoken with Mayor London Breed (D) about the matter. Her office de ella did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Boudin, a former public defender, is part of a new wave of Democratic prosecutors implementing more liberal policies on drug crimes and incarceration. He is facing a recall over criticism that he is too soft on crime, an accusation lodged against many officials in one of the country’s most liberal cities.

San Francisco’s struggle with rampant crime has drawn increased attention in recent months. In December, Breed declared a state of emergency in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood, long known for open drug use and widespread homelessness. Breed said the “reign” of criminals would come “to an end when we take the steps to be more aggressive with law enforcement, more aggressive with the changes in our policies, and less tolerant” of the crime “that has destroyed our city. ”

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