May 03, 2019

Feinstein and Cornyn Debbie Smith Act Reauthorization Bill to Fight Nationwide Rape Kit Backlog Passes Committee

Washington - Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) released the following statements after the Debbie Smith Act of 2019 passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

“The Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant program has dramatically reduced the backlog of untested DNA rape kits, providing justice for rape survivors and getting dangerous predators off the streets. Since 2004, more than 860,000 rape kits have been tested and 360,000 DNA profiles uploaded to the FBI’s database thanks to this program. I’m glad the committee remains committed to reducing the untested rape kit backlog and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to get it reauthorized,” said Sen. Feinstein.

“The backlog of untested rape kits sitting on laboratory shelves stands between survivors of sexual assault and the peace of knowing their attacker is off the streets,” said Sen. Cornyn. “I’m grateful to my colleagues in the Judiciary Committee for supporting this legislation and am looking forward to bringing it to the Senate floor as soon as possible.”

The Debbie Smith Crime Victims Protection Act reauthorizes the Debbie Smith Act to continue the testing of DNA evidence, including rape kits, from unsolved crimes nationwide, DNA training and education for law enforcement, correctional personnel, and court officers, and the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Program, which supports forensic nurse training throughout the country. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Richard Burr (R-NC), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Josh Hawley (R-MO) are original cosponsors.

Background on the Debbie Smith Act:

The Debbie Smith Act was originally signed into law in 2004 to provide local and state crime laboratories resources to end the backlog of untested DNA evidence from unsolved crimes, analyze DNA samples, and increase the capacity to process DNA in order to guard against future backlogs. Since it became law, more than 641,000 DNA cases have been processed. In addition to crime scene evidence, Debbie Smith funds are also utilized to process offender DNA samples to ensure evidence from unsolved crimes can be matched against a database of known offenders, similar to the criminal fingerprint databases.

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