Judiciary

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.

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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

Jul 10, 2018 Press Release

NEW YORK—Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) joined with New York City elected officials and representatives from local and national women’s organizations to oppose Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. 

Dec 21, 2016 Press Release

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.

Mar 19, 2015 Press Release

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:

Feb 26, 2015 Press Release

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.

Dec 4, 2014 Press Release
“The Justice Department is right to open a civil rights investigation into the tragic death of Eric Garner. There is something terribly wrong with our system if we cannot get an indictment in a death that the NYC Medical Examiner ruled a homicide. To say that it’s not even worth having a trial to determine if the officers involved have committed a crime is shocking and creates the impression that there are no limits on police action even when unarmed people are killed. (cont'd)
Dec 3, 2014 Press Release

WASHINGTON–Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) today released the following statement on the grand jury decision not to indict an NYPD office for the death of Eric Garner.

Oct 3, 2014 Press Release

WASHINGTON—Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) today released the following statement applauding Governor Cuomo and the State University of New York (SUNY) Board of Trustees on adopting a resolution to implement a comprehensive, system-wide and uniform set of practices to combat sexual assaults on SUNY campuses.

Oct 1, 2014 Press Release

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.

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