Cornyn, Klobuchar Bill to Fight Rape Kit Backlog Passes Senate
U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) released the following statements after the Senate passed their legislation to reauthorize the Debbie Smith Act, which would provide state and local law enforcement agencies with resources to complete forensic analyses of crime scenes and untested rape kits:
“Examining DNA evidence is a critical step in achieving justice for sexual assault survivors, but many law enforcement agencies don’t have the resources to work through the rape kit backlog in a timely manner,” said Sen. Cornyn. “This legislation will empower law enforcement to solve these heinous crimes and give survivors the closure they deserve.”
“As a former prosecutor, I know firsthand that behind every unprocessed rape kit is a victim of sexual assault wondering if they will ever see justice,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “By reauthorizing the critical Debbie Smith Act, our legislation will provide law enforcement officers with additional resources to process untested rape kits and other DNA evidence, helping them bring more criminals to justice.”
Prior to her passing, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced this legislation with Sen. Cornyn. Sens. Cornyn and Feinstein successfully led the effort to reauthorize the Debbie Smith Act in 2019. This legislation is cosponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Kennedy (R-LA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).
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 860,000 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.
This legislation is endorsed by Debbie Smith, the Fraternal Order of Police, Major Cities Chiefs, Major County Sheriffs of America, National District Attorneys Association, Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations, Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), and Joyful Heart Foundation