Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Speaker, April is National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. In fact, today is National DNA Day, where we commemorate the discovery of DNA's double helix and the subsequent scientific advancements.
DNA has revolutionized public safety and criminal justice in this country. It helps solve unsolved crimes. Since its inception in 1994, the DNA database system has solved more than 200,000 cold cases that provided closure to over 200,000 families. It assists prosecutors in taking criminals off the streets. It also exonerates the innocent, having freed more than 300 convicted criminals.
Katie Sepich was a 22-year-old graduate student at New Mexico State University in my district. In August of 2003, she was brutally raped, burned, strangled to death, and abandoned at a dumpsite. But Katie Sepich was a fighter, having the DNA of her offender under her fingernails. Through DNA, they were able to find and convict her offender and put him in jail.
The bill, which was signed into law here in this Congress last year, helps the State collect evidence. DNA has transformed our justice system and provided closure for families.