Cornyn-Leahy Bill to End Rape Kit Backlog Clears Committee

In: All News   Posted 05/12/2016

WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee today approved the Justice for All Reauthorization Act, legislation from U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that will improve the criminal justice system and ensure public confidence in it by helping to reduce and eliminate the backlog of untested rape kits, as well as expand compensation and legal rights for victims across the country. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) are original cosponsors of the bill.

“Reauthorizing this essential piece of legislation will ensure justice for the victims of crime and give law enforcement the tools they need to keep violent offenders off the street,” Sen. Cornyn said. “Victims of sexual assault should not have to wait for justice as the potential key to solving a crime sits on a shelf somewhere. I look forward to working with Sen. Leahy and the rest of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move this bill forward.”

“As a former prosecutor, I have great faith in our criminal justice system and in the men and women who have dedicated their lives to making it work,” Sen. Leahy said. “But we also know that our justice system is imperfect. Innocent people, like my friend Kirk Bloodsworth, are sometimes convicted, and even sentenced to death. Dozens of exonerations made possible by the Justice for All Act are testament enough to its value. It is past time for Congress to reauthorize this vital law to ensure that law enforcement and crime victims have the resources they need and that our justice system serves us all.”

The Justice for all Reauthorization Act of 2016 strengthens crime victims’ rights and programs by increasing access to restitution, and reauthorizes programs used to notify crime victims that they have the right to legal assistance and to be heard in court. The bill aims to help reduce the rape kit backlog and provides resources for forensic labs while improving access to post-conviction DNA testing. The bill also would improve the administration of criminal justice programs by increasing accountability for federal funds and requiring the Justice Department to assist state and local governments to improve their indigent defense systems. Additionally, it reinforces provisions of the Prison Rape Elimination Act