Monday Must Reads: Lawmakers Push to Clear Up the Rape Kit Backlog; Supreme Court Lets Brown’s Measure Go Forward


Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. State lawmakers have introduced a package of bills designed to clear up the backlog of untested rape kits in California and to make sure that all kits are tested in a timely manner, the Chron$ reports. No one knows exactly how many untested kits there are in the state, but one partial count found that there are at least 6,100. The legislation would upgrade the state’s rape-kit database; standardize rape kits; allow victims to track the tests; and would lift the ten-year statute of limitations on rape cases.

2. The California Supreme Court is allowing Governor Jerry Brown to collect signatures on his prison-reform ballot initiative while the legal dispute over the measure plays out, the LA Times$ reports. A lower court judge had blocked the measure, ruling that the governor illegally gutted another initiative and replaced it with his prison-reform plan, which, if approved by voters, would grant early release to nonviolent inmates. The state Supreme Court will consider in March whether to affirm or overturn the lower court’s ruling.

3. A hacker broke into UC Berkeley’s computer system, gaining access to the financial records of 80,000 students, alumni, and staff, the Chron$ reports. The hacker had access to bank records and Social Security numbers.

4. The amount of flame-retardant chemicals found in the breast milk of California women has plummeted 40 percent since the state’s ban on PBDEs took affect a decade ago, Kaiser Health News reports (via the Trib$), citing a new study from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

5. And the film, Spotlight, which was based on the true story of the Boston Globe’s landmark investigation of pedophile priests and the Catholic Church, won the Academy Award for best picture of 2015 last night.