Cornyn, Klobuchar, Heller, Bennet Introduce Bill to Help Fight National Rape Kit Backlog


In: All News   Posted 09/06/2017
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WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), along with Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Michael Bennet (D-CO), today introduced the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act to reauthorize, strengthen, and extend the Sexual Assault Forensic Reporting program in an effort to help reduce the national rape kit backlog.

“The backlog of untested kits sitting in labs and evidence lockers across the country is unacceptable and only adds to the pain of survivors. This bill ensures our state and local law enforcement agencies continue to have the resources to solve crimes, and provide survivors with the justice they deserve,” Sen. Cornyn said.  “I look forward to reauthorizing and strengthening this bipartisan legislation that has already done so much for survivors.”

“It’s a tragedy that unprocessed rape kits are sitting in storage when they could hold the answers to unsolved crimes,” Klobuchar said. “Reauthorizing this bipartisan legislation will strengthen law enforcement’s efforts to reduce the number of untested rape kits and help put perpetrators behind bars.”

“Victims of sexual assault deserve swift justice and nothing less,” Heller said. “This bill helps Nevada law enforcement in their efforts to cut down on the backlog of untested rape kits and ensure critical evidence isn’t left collecting dust. I have a long history of supporting and authoring proposals to crack down on these horrific crimes and aid victims on a path to recovery and closure. I’m proud to join Senator Cornyn in introducing this important bipartisan legislation that empowers law enforcement to fight sexual assault crimes.”

“Survivors of sexual violence deserve thorough and fair investigations,” Bennet said. “Right now, critical DNA evidence sits untested because law enforcement agencies lack the necessary tools and training to process it. The SAFER Act makes commonsense reforms to address our nation’s rape-kit backlog and ensure that justice is served.”

In addition to reauthorizing this program, the legislation would ensure pediatric forensic nurses are eligible for training, highlighting the need for pediatric sexual assault nurse examiners in responding to children suffering from abuse. A one-page summary of the bill is available here.   

  

Background:

Sens. Cornyn and Michael Bennet (D-CO) were the authors of the Sexual Assault Forensic Reporting Act, a 2013 law creating the SAFER Program which has helped law enforcement reduce the rape kit backlog through existing funds under the Debbie Smith Act. The legislation increased the amount of these funds spent on untested kits by 35 percent and allowed 5-7 percent to be used on SAFER program audits. It helps state and local law enforcement agencies address both the laboratory and storage backlogs by providing funding to conduct one-year audits of untested sexual assault evidence, which has uncovered tens of thousands of untested rape kits on shelves and in labs across the nation.