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.

Select Highlight

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

Jun 10, 2008 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – “The Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2008” (H.R. 5057), legislation that would extend an important federal DNA backlog processing program through FY 2014, was voted out of the House Judiciary Committee today.  The bill is named for a rape survivor who testified before Congress about the use of DNA evidence.  Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) introduced the bill, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith (R-TX) are original co-sponsors.

Jun 2, 2008 Press Release
New York, NY – Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney and Council Members Jessica Lappin and Helen Sears joined with New York-area women’s groups and urged the federal government to pass strong legislation to combat sex trafficking.  The elected officials and activists also announced a strengthened NYC Council resolution on the issue and appealed to other U.S. cities to join the fight against this heinous crime.
Apr 9, 2008 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, a champion of domestic and international women’s issues, testified today at the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security hearing, “Reauthorization and Improvement of DNA Initiatives of the Justice For All Act of 2004.”  Her prepared testimony is below. 

Jan 16, 2008 Press Release
WASHINGTON, DC –Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith (R-TX) today introduced “The Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2008” (H.R. 5057), legislation that would extend an important federal DNA backlog processing program through FY 2014. 
Oct 16, 2007 Press Release
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) submitted the following statement in support of the “Free Flow of Information Act” (H.R. 2102) into the official congressional record.  H.R. 2102 overwhelmingly passed the House today by a vote of 389 to 21.
Sep 18, 2007 Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday afternoon, Reps. Doris Matsui (CA-5), Carolyn Maloney (NY-14) and Christopher Shays (CT-14) introduced a House Resolution to call attention to the growing level of crime on cruise ships and the lack of federal regulation overseeing the cruise industry.  On Wed., Sept. 19th, at the request of Rep. Matsui, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a second hearing to further investigate this issue.
Mar 9, 2005 Press Release
 WASHINGTON, DC - Today Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-14) and eight of her colleagues introduced the Hate Crimes Statistics Improvement Act, which will ensure that hate crimes motivated by gender are accounted for by the FBI and local law enforcement agencies. With accurate data, local communities can identify gender-based hate crimes in their area and chart their progress toward eliminating them. The inclusion of gender will send a strong message that gender-based hate crimes will not be tolerated.
Nov 1, 2004 Press Release
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney applauded the bipartisan coalition of members of Congress, organizations, and crime victims like Debbie Smith for their success in getting H.R. 5107, the “Justice for All Act,” signed into law. The president signed the bill into law just as police in New York State made their first arrest, based on an indictment of a DNA sample (“John Doe”), of a suspect in a sexual assault case from 1996.
Oct 8, 2004 Press Release
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Rep. Maloney applauded the House for passing H.R. 4200, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2005, which includes her amendment to erase the backlog in untested DNA kits, reduce the processing time of the kits, and ensure the armed forces have sufficient number of kits. The amendment also directs the Secretary of Defense to ensure that personnel are trained in the use of these kits.
Sep 22, 2004 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-14) applauded the Senate Judiciary Committee for passing S. 1700, the “Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology Act of 2003” out of committee. The legislation, which will bring long overdue justice to rape victims and their families, passed the House of Representatives overwhelmingly on November 5, 2003, 357-67.