Maloney, Heller introduce bill to eliminate rape kit testing backlog nationwide
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and Rep.
Dean Heller (R-NV) along with over 20 House colleagues introduced H.R.
4114, the “Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault Act of 2009.”
The legislation would help reduce the national backlog of over 180,000 untested rape kits currently on police shelves by creating incentives for jurisdictions to eliminate their rape kit backlogs, process their incoming rape kits in a timely manner, and publicly report their backlog numbers. The bill will also address several other factors that work to deny justice to victims of sexual assault – including the denial of free rape kits to survivors of sexual assault and the shortage of trained health professionals capable of administering rape kit exams.
“Every two minutes someone is sexually assaulted somewhere in the United States. DNA evidence doesn’t forget and it cannot be intimidated,” said Rep Maloney. “By processing this evidence, we can prevent rapists from attacking more innocent victims and ensure that the survivors and their families receive justice.”
“It is imperative that Congress give law enforcement the resources necessary to keep our communities safe. DNA analysis has proven to be an essential tool for solving crimes across the country. This legislation could help solve cases nationwide and bring closure to victims and families. I am pleased to join Congresswoman Maloney in bipartisan support of this very important legislation,” said Heller.
The Senate’s companion bill, S.2736, has been introduced by Senators Franken, Grassley, Hatch, and Feinstein.
For complete bill text, click here.
Original cosponsors (22): Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA), Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA), Rep Eliot Engel (D-NY), Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-MA), Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA), Rep. John Hall (D-NY), Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Rep. Dennis Moore (D-KS), Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Rep Adam Schiff (D-CA).
Background: Rep Maloney authored legislation, the Debbie Smith Act, which passed as part of the Justice for All Act of 2004, authorizing the necessary funding to start processing the national DNA backlog through the creation of the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program. Despite Congress’ full funding of the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program year after year, backlogs continue to persist. This legislation improves upon the existing law and clarifies its intent.