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, after Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that the Department of Justice will commit $1 billion over the next five years to improving DNA testing in criminal cases, including $176 million in fiscal year 2004, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) released the following statement:
Washington, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), joined Congressman Mark Green (R-WI), and Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) to introduce H.R. 1046, "The Debbie Smith Act," in the House of Representatives. Congresswoman Maloney is the lead Democrat on the bill. They were joined by Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), sponsors of the bill in the Senate, which passed unanimously in the Senate last year.
Washington, DC - Today, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), the lead Democrat on H.R. 1877, praised her colleagues for passing this important piece of legislation. The Child Sex Crimes Wiretapping Act gives federal agents the authority to wiretap suspected sex predators and child pornographers.
Washington, D.C.: Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Congressman Mark Green (R-WI), along with Barry Scheck, National Legal Expert on the Use of DNA in Criminal Proceedings, Debbie Smith, crime victim whose attacker was caught through DNA evidence, Meredith Wagner, Executive Vice-President, Lifetime Television, held a news conference on The Debbie Smith Bill in Washington, D.C. today.
NEW YORK: Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY), together with Barry Scheck, National Legal Expert on the Use of DNA in Criminal Proceedings, and Debbie Smith, crime victim whose attacker was caught through DNA evidence, announced sweeping reform today, outside of Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, for the collection and processing of DNA in sex crime cases.
WASHINGTON, DC - Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens) announced today she will introduce legislation giving federal agents the power to track down sexual predators, targeting those who peddle child pornography, engage in child sex-slave traffic or use travel agencies that arrange international sex tours with minors. Mrs. Maloney introduced this bill with Congresswoman Nancy Johnson (R-CT).
NEW YORK: In the wake of the ghastly attacks on at least 24 women in Central Park this Sunday, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (Manhattan, Queens) and leading women's rights leaders condemned hate crimes today, and urged passage of three Federal bills that would establish a more comprehensive program to fight hate crimes and gender-related violence. Violent crimes motivated by gender bias, race, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, disability, or national origin, are extremely unjust because they create a climate of fear that keeps a particular segment of society from participating fully and freely in society.
NEW YORK -- On Sunday, September 26, at Hunter College, youth from across New York City joined Congresswoman Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens) to participate in an interactive forum on youth violence. During the forum, over 150 students from schools and youth organizations talked about ideas and experiences in an effort to create a collective strategy to stop youth violence.
"Last night, two young men were killed, and two others wounded in Manhattan’s Kips Bay section. The shooting occurred in front of a crowd of teens. Youth in New York are exposed to major acts of violence everyday, and that is why we must give New York’s youth an opportunity to combine their energy and voices to stop the violence that inundates their communities," Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said today.