The Debbie Smith Act has been lauded as the most important anti-rape legislation ever signed into law. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney first met Debbie Smith in June 2001 at a Government Reform Committee hearing on DNA. Debbie was raped near her home in 1989, and for six and a half years she lived in fear that her attacker would return to kill her. Debbie was finally able to live without fear when she learned that her rapist had been identified because of DNA evidence and was already in prison. Maloney decided to author legislation titled “The Debbie Smith Act” in the 107th Congress to provide grants to local law enforcement to process their DNA rape kit backlog. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits sit in storage, leaving victims without answers and criminals out on the streets. DNA doesn't forget, and DNA cannot be intimidated by defense counsel.
In 2004 The Debbie Smith Act was signed into law as part of the Justice for All Act (P.L. 108-405). It has since been reauthorized as standalone legislation in 2008, and again in 2014, when it was extended for another 5 years, through fiscal year 2019 (P.L. 113-182).
In 2013, language Congresswoman Maloney authored to require that 75 percent of Debbie Smith Act funds be used to process the backlog of untested rape kits, was included in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that was signed into law. The language mirrored the Sexual Assault Forensic Reporting Act (SAFER Act, H.R. 354 in the 113th Congress) Maloney cosponsored with Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX). The law also provides grants to conduct audits of unprocessed kits so that the backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits sitting in labs across the country can be tracked.
In 2007, Lifetime released "A Life Interrupted", a movie dramatization of Debbie Smith's story starring Lea Thompson. Find out more information here.
To learn about more the DNA Backlog Reduction Program and find out if your state or locality is receiving Debbie Smith Act grants, visit the National Institute of Justice website.
3/27/2014 – H.R. 4323, Debbie Smith Act [113th Congress]
08/10/10 - H.R. 6085, SAFER Act of 2010 [111th Congress]
11/19/09 - H.R.4114, Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault Act of 2009 [111th Congress]
01/17/08 - H.R. 5057, The Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act [110th Congress]
03/04/03 - H.R. 1046, Debbie Smith Act (lead Democrat) [108th Congress]
09/10/01 - H.R.2874, Debbie Smith Act [107th Congress]
More on DNA Legislation
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) today praised the members of the House Appropriations Committee for including in the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill an additional $41 million to eliminate the national backlog in DNA Rape Kit Analysis. The funding is in addition to $117 million provided through the Debbie Smith Act—legislation Maloney authored and worked to reauthorize earlier this year, which has provided grants to state and local governments for rape kit analysis since 2004.
NEW YORK – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney today announced that the President has just signed into law an extension of the Debbie Smith Act, a bill she authored which became law in 2004 and has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to address the nationwide rape kit DNA analysis backlog.
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) today released the following statement on the Senate’s passage of the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2014, H.R. 4323.
“The Debbie Smith Act has been called the most important anti-rape legislation ever signed into law, because it provides substantial federal funds to help states and localities work through DNA evidence backlogs. Rape kits that sat on shelves began to be tested and predators who walked our streets were finally put behind bars when the law took effect.
WASHINGTON – With the House set to vote on the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2014, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), and Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) today stood with sexual assault survivors Debbie Smith and Natasha Alexenko to urge their colleagues to support the measure. The original Debbie Smith Act, which has been called the most important anti-rape legislation ever signed into law, was first introduced by Maloney in 2001 and signed into law in 2004 as part of the Justice for All Act. Since that time the legislation has provided millions of dollars to state and local law enforcement agencies for DNA analysis of untested rape kits.
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has joined forces with House Judiciary Committee member Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Ranking Member John Conyers to pass the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4323). The committee today held a markup on the bill to extend the federal DNA backlog processing grant program through 2019. The original Debbie Smith Act was authored by Congresswoman Maloney and signed into law in 2004 as part of the Justice for All Act.