Senator Cornyn

Cornyn, Leahy Bill to Strengthen Victims’ Rights Signed Into Law

December 16, 2016

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) released the following statement after President Obama signed the Justice for All Reauthorization Act into law:

“Signing the Justice for All Reauthorization Act into law is a tremendous step forward for victims across the country and those who protect them, and I’m thankful for Senator Leahy’s role in getting this to the President’s desk,” said Sen. Cornyn. “By providing law enforcement with the resources necessary to put criminals behind bars and reducing the backlog of untested rape kits, we can help restore the lives of victims across the nation. This is how Congress is supposed to work—in a bipartisan way, on behalf of the most vulnerable in our society.”

“Although there is more to be done, the Justice for All Reauthorization Act takes important steps to even the scales of our justice system.  This criminal justice reform law will improve our indigent defense system, ensure access to post-conviction DNA testing, and make sure that the rights of crime victims, including survivors of sexual assault, are protected,” Sen. Leahy said.  “I will continue to fight alongside leaders like Kirk Bloodsworth, the first person exonerated by DNA evidence after being sentenced to die, and Debbie Smith, who fought for years to have her rape kit tested, to ensure our criminal justice system has integrity and inspires confidence.  I thank Senator Cornyn for working with me and bipartisan leaders in the House for supporting our legislation.  As we consider legislation next Congress, we must remember that we have a continuing obligation to look out for all victims and to create fairness in our criminal justice system.”

The Justice for all Reauthorization Act of 2016 passed the Senate unanimously last week. The legislation strengthens crime victims’ rights in the courtroom, increases access to restitution and restorative services, and reauthorizes important law enforcement investigative programs. The bill would help reduce the nationwide rape kit backlog and provide resources for forensic labs while protecting the innocent by improving access to post-conviction DNA testing.