RAINN and Debbie Smith call on Congress to Reauthorize the Debbie Smith Act

Pictured: Debbie Smith.(Photo: RAINN)

Debbie Smith delivered 40,000 signatures to Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi’s office calling on Congress to swiftly reauthorize the Debbie Smith Act

News Release

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network

Today RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, and Debbie Smith held a press conference on the importance of reauthorizing the Debbie Smith Act. After the press conference, Debbie Smith delivered 40,000 signatures to Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi’s office calling on Congress to swiftly reauthorize the Debbie Smith Act.

What people are saying

“The Debbie Smith Act has helped bring justice to so many victims. It has also helped take thousands of serial rapists off the streets, which has prevented countless sexual assaults. It’s imperative that when Congress comes back to work next week that it makes passage of this landmark legislation a priority.”

– Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of RAINN

“The years I spent waiting for justice can never be returned to me. I was always afraid and constantly looking over my shoulder. But other victims do not have to go through this. On behalf of the many rape victims who have reached out to me and for the thousands more awaiting justice, I thank our champions in the House and the Senate for prioritizing this important legislation.”

– Debbie Smith, survivor and advocate

“One of the achievements I am most proud of in my career is my legislation that established the Debbie Smith grant program. It has been called the most important anti-rape legislation ever signed into law because the funding enables local law enforcement and forensic labs to process DNA evidence, including rape kits, in a timely manner. Continuing this program is essential to making sure that sexual assault victims do not have to wait for justice. We cannot allow its authorization to lapse, and I’m confident that the program will be reauthorized with bipartisan support. I want to thank Debbie Smith, RAINN, and all the advocates who have always championed this program.”

– Rep. Carolyn Maloney

“The rape kit backlog is an unconscionable problem throughout the country. Victims of sexual violence deserve to have the full support of law enforcement in their fight for justice and that support extends to the testing of all rape kits. The reauthorization of the Debbie Smith Act is vital to capturing violent predators and ensuring they are held accountable for their crimes.”

– Representative Ann Wagner

"DNA funding remains one of the most critical investments government can make for the members of our organization in order to prosecute sex offenders. DNA testing is the best tool we have to identify very serious offenders who remain at large, harming people in our communities, and the best weapon against wrongfully convicting an innocent person."

– Nelson Bunn, Executive Director of the National District Attorney's Association

“It’s difficult for us mere mortals to fathom how much courage it has taken to do what Debbie has done and to truly understand the impact that her life-long advocacy for rape victims has had on this country. Advocating for this bill, Debbie has had to tell her story countless times. Each time she does, she has to relive the trauma of that crime. She shouldn’t have to.”

– Kris Rose, director of strategic partnerships at Healing Justice

"There is no question that the ability of law enforcement, crime labs, and prosecutors to implement change often depends, in part, on whether additional resources and funding are dedicated to clearing backlogs and pursuing investigative leads. The Debbie Smith Act has provided crucial funding for crime labs to enhance their capacity and upgrade technology to test sexual assault kits and other DNA evidence in a timely manner.”

– Ilse Knecht, Director of Policy & Advocacy for the Joyful Heart Foundation

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