U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and John Cornyn (R-TX) applauded the passage of their bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee to help law enforcement process rape kits. The bill, which would help states and local governments conduct audits of rape kits, was reported out of committee with unanimous support.
"Victims of sexual assault have already gone through enough. They shouldn't have to wait unnecessarily for justice," Bennet said. "Today's passage of the SAFER Act in the Judiciary Committee brings us closer to helping local law enforcement reduce backlogs of rape kits and bring criminals to justice. This bill will support those efforts and enable these agencies to stay on top of their work."
"Today we took a large step toward ensuring justice for victims of sexual assault," Cornyn said. "I'm encouraged by the bipartisan support the SAFER Act received in the Judiciary Committee and look forward to a vote on the Senate floor."
According to prominent victim's rights groups, there is a national backlog of at least 400,000 rape kits sitting untested across the country. The SAFER Act would help states and local governments conduct audits of rape kits in law enforcement storage facilities and increase available funds for crime labs to process those kits. It would also create a national registry to help track these audits, prioritize the analysis of untested rape kits and better target existing resources.
The SAFER Act
The bill would amend current law to require that at least 75% of Debbie Smith Act funds be spent directly on either analyzing untested DNA evidence or increasing the capacity of labs.
The bill would also provide state and local governments with funding to conduct one-year audits of the untested sexual assault evidence in their possession.
Finally the bill would create a national registry to help track these audits, prioritize the analysis of untested rape kits and better target existing Debbie Smith Act appropriations.
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)
National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV)
National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA)
Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA)
Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV)
Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA)