It is important for any civil society to maintain an effective, responsive and well-managed legal system that protects people's rights and safety. Despite some progress, the U.S. still has much work to do to address systemic problems within our justice system. The federal government must do its part to not only safeguard our communities, but to make sure our justice system is even-handed and responsive to the needs of all Americans.
Reducing the National Rape Kit Backlog: Congresswoman Maloney authored the Debbie Smith Act to help reduce the backlog of untested DNA rape kits. First passed into law in 2004, this bill has been lauded "as the most important anti-rape legislation ever signed into law," by the head of the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network.
Congresswoman Maloney first met Debbie Smith in June 2001 at an Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on DNA rape evidence. 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 authored “The Debbie Smith Act” in the 107th Congress to provide grants to local law enforcement to process their DNA rape kit backlog.
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 Congresswoman Maloney co-authored the Sexual Assault Forensic Reporting Act (SAFER Act, H.R. 354 in the 113th Congress) to require that 75 percent of Debbie Smith Act funds be used to process the backlog of untested DNA kits. This bill was eventually included in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which was signed into law by President Obama. The law also provides grants to conduct audits of unprocessed kits to help track the backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested DNA kits sitting in labs across the country.
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 more about the DNA Backlog Reduction Program, and to find out if your state or locality is receiving Debbie Smith Act grants, visit the National Institute of Justice website.
More on Judiciary
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) voted in support of S.937, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. This bill focuses on COVID-19 hate crimes and the dramatic increase in hate crimes and violence against Asian-American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the vote, Congresswoman Maloney, as Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, will manage debate for House Democrats on Congresswoman Judy Chu’s H.Res.
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) today urged all of her colleagues to join her in supporting H.R. 1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a bold and comprehensive legislative package that would hold police accountable, improve police training and practices, empower our communities, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives. H.R.
37 members of Congress sent a letter to President Biden on Thursday, urging him to issue a blanket pardon to those with federal nonviolent cannabis offenses. The effort was led by Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chairs Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and included Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY).
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), senior member on the House Committee of Oversight and Government Reform, released the following statement today in support of calls for a Congressional investigation in response to the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) today released the following statement calling on Senate Republicans to allow a vote on President Obama’s nominee for Attorney General Loretta Lynch:
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Congressman Patrick Meehan (R-PA) and a bipartisan coalition of other House members will soon introduce the House companion to the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA), which was today unveiled by a bipartisan group of eight Senators. Maloney introduced similar legislation in the 113th Congress with a bipartisan group of 18 House members.