Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network calls on Congress to swiftly pass Debbie Smith Act to address rape kit backlog

Pictured: Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). The benefits of The Debbie Smith Act cannot be overstated says Cornyn.(Image: screenshot from YouTube video "Sen. John Cornyn Calls on House Democrats to Stop Holding Up VAWA, Debbie Smith Act" - Lisa J. Ellwood, Indian Country Today)

Federal law that helps state crime labs test tens of thousands of rape kits every year, the Debbie Smith Act, will expire in September unless Congress acts to renew it

News Release

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network 

Today the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) released a statement following a Senate floor speech by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) on the importance of the House passing the Debbie Smith Act and announcement from Senator Kamala Harris of her plan to end the backlog.

The federal law that helps state crime labs test tens of thousands of rape kits every year, the Debbie Smith Act, will expire in September unless Congress acts to renew it. Since 2005, there have been more than 455,000 matches of crime scene evidence to offenders’ DNA. Of these matches, 42 percent are the result of testing made possible by Debbie Smith Act grants. The Senate recently passed a bill to renew the Debbie Smith Act, which the House of Representatives needs to act on.

“This bill is crucial to survivors and to public safety, and we need the House to pass it now,” said Scott Berkowitz, president of RAINN. “We appreciate those Congressional leaders who are committed to this bipartisan bill: Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Ann Wagner (R-MO). This bill is critically important to the thousands of victims whose sexual assaults remain unsolved.” 

About the Debbie Smith Act

  • The Debbie Smith Act created the primary program to end the backlog of untested DNA evidence.
  • The Debbie Smith Act provides funding for crime labs to process DNA evidence.
  • The Debbie Smith Act requires that states create plans for the reduction of the backlog.
  • The Debbie Smith Act helps to strengthen the national DNA database used to help solve crimes.

What people are saying

“Because of the Debbie Smith Act, more than 860,000 DNA cases have been processed and 360,000 DNA profiles have been uploaded into the FBI's database. This accounts for 43 percent of all forensic profiles in the FBI's DNA database. The benefits of this law cannot be overstated.”

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)

“Congress originally passed the Debbie Smith Act in 2005. Since then, grant funding has allowed the results of hundreds of thousands of DNA profiles to be processed and uploaded into the national database. Simply put, the Debbie Smith program is a very important program for sexual assault victims across the country.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

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