Today U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) issued the following statement after Congress passed The Violence Against Women Act, which includes Sen. Cornyn's Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) bill to reduce the national rape kit backlog:
"For far too long, an unacceptable national backlog of untested rape kits has compounded the pain for too many victims of sexual assault.
"I am pleased that Congress has passed this legislation that takes a significant step toward reducing that backlog and bringing swifter justice for millions of victims."
The SAFER Act will audit and reduce the backlog of untested rape kits sitting in the possession of law enforcement agencies across the country, which experts have pegged as high as 400,000. Endorsed by key national victims' rights groups, this deficit-neutral bill will provide funding for state and local governments to conduct audits of untested DNA evidence and create a national reporting system to help track and prioritize untested rape kits.
Background on SAFER
Provides state and local governments with funding to conduct a one-year audit of the untested sexual assault evidence in their possession.
Creates a national reporting system to help track these audits, prioritize the analysis of untested rape kits and better target existing Debbie Smith Act appropriations.
Amends 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.
Allows the Department of Justice to publish a report on advisory protocols and practices used in cases that include untested sexual assault evidence, and allows SAFER Act grantees to use existing funds to implement those guidelines.
Prohibits grantees from holding funds in offshore accounts and using funds for conferences and lobbying, and limits the amount of funds that may be used for administrative costs.
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)
Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)
National Organization for Women (NOW)
Concerned Women for America (CWA)
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)
National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV)
National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA)
Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA)
Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV)