Washington, DC ñToday, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) along with Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced S. 80and HR 254 respectively, The Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act of 2013. These companion bills will help law enforcement process rape kits and bring an end to the rape kit backlog.
ìFor far too long, an unacceptable national backlog of untested rape kits has compounded the pain for too many victims of sexual assault. Today, we take a significant step toward reducing that backlog and bringing swifter justice for millions of victims,î said Senator Cornyn. ìThis bill enjoys broad, bipartisan support in Congress and getting this bill to the Presidentís desk will be a top priority for me.î
ìThe SAFER Act makes commonsense reforms to provide local law enforcement agencies with resources and flexibility to address the nationís rape kit backlog,î said Senator Bennet. ìNo victim of sexual assault should have to wait for justice while critical DNA evidence sits untested on dusty shelves. I urge my colleagues in both houses of Congress to pass this bipartisan measure as quickly as possible.î
ìVictims of crime should not be denied justice because of a bureaucratic backlog. It is unconscionable to let evidence sit on dusty shelves in storage facilities when it could be used to put perpetrators where they belongóbehind bars,î said Congressman Poe. ìIt is my hope that the SAFER Act will bring to light the necessity of testing rape kits as quickly as possible in order to bring swift justice to violent criminals. Victims of violent crime should not have to live in fear while the perpetrators go about their everyday lives. Letís get this done. î
ìThe gridlock in Washington shouldnít create further backlog for innocent rape victims whose rape kits are awaiting processing,î said Congresswoman Maloney. ìPassing the SAFER Act doesnít use any new money or add to the deficit, while addressing a long overdue problem ñ ending the rape kit backlog. These audit incentive grants will help State and local law enforcement agencies to address and understand their own rape kit backlogs. Having worked on this issue since 2001, I know that having data about the scope of the backlog is vital to addressing the problem. The bill also ensures that 75 percent of Debbie Smith funds be spent directly on untested DNA evidence. By processing this evidence, we can prevent rapists from attacking more innocent victims and ensure that the survivors and their families receive justice.î
Currently, an estimated 400,000 rape kits sit untested in labs and on police storage shelves across the nationóeach one of them holding the potential to solve a crime, imprison a rapist and provide a victim with the justice they deserve. The SAFER Act will help state and local governments conduct audits of rape kits with no new spending by better targeting existing funds under the Debbie Smith Act and ensuring more money goes directly toward testing rape kits.