Washington, D.C. ñ Today, the House unanimously passed the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act of 2012. This bipartisan bill originally introduced by Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) in the House and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) in the Senate will help law enforcement process rape kits and bring an end to the rape kit backlog.
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 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. The Senate should act quickly to approve this measure and send it to the Presidentís desk before the close of the 112th Congress.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.
The SAFER Act
- Provides state and local governments with funding to conduct one year audits of the untested sexual assault evidence in their possession with no new spending.
- Requires aggregate data from the audits to be posted online to provide accountability and track their progress.
- Amends current law to require that at least 75% of Debbie Smith Act funds be spent directly onanalyzing untested DNA evidence and increasing the capacity of labs.
Congressman Ted Poe is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Victimsí Rights Caucus.