Senator Cornyn

Cornyn Bill to Reauthorize Debbie Smith Act, Fight Rape Kit Backlog Signed Into Law

December 31, 2019

Cornyn Shepherded Bill Through Senate to President’s Desk

AUSTIN- U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) released the following statement after President Trump signed the Debbie Smith Act of 2019 into law yesterday:

“This landmark legislation has provided more than a decade of support for survivors, serving as a critical tool in the fight to end backlogs of untested kits in cities across America,” said Sen. Cornyn. “Since 2011, the Debbie Smith Act has helped reduce the backlog of unsubmitted rape kits in Texas by approximately 90 percent. The benefits of continuing the programs created under the Debbie Smith Act cannot be overstated, and I appreciate all of the advocates who have fought with us at every step of the way.”

The Debbie Smith Crime Victims Protection Act reauthorizes the Debbie Smith Act to continue the testing of DNA evidence, including rape kits, from unsolved crimes nationwide, DNA training and education for law enforcement, correctional personnel, and court officers, and the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Program, which supports forensic nurse training throughout the country. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Richard Burr (R-NC), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Josh Hawley (R-MO) were original cosponsors.

Background on the Debbie Smith Act:

The Debbie Smith Act was originally signed into law in 2004 to provide local and state crime laboratories resources to end the backlog of untested DNA evidence from unsolved crimes, analyze DNA samples, and increase the capacity to process DNA in order to guard against future backlogs. Since it became law, more than 641,000 DNA cases have been processed. In addition to crime scene evidence, Debbie Smith funds are also utilized to process offender DNA samples to ensure evidence from unsolved crimes can be matched against a database of known offenders, similar to the criminal fingerprint databases.