THE DEBBIE SMITH ACT WILL

Mar 4, 2003
Press Release

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.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney authored "The Debbie Smith Act" in the 107th Congress, a version of the legislation introduced today, after having Ms. Smith testify at a Government Reform Committee hearing on DNA evidence. Debbie Smith is a rape survivor whose attacker was identified through DNA evidence.

Congresswoman Maloney said, " Even one rape kit left untested is one too many - each rape kit sitting on a shelf waiting to be tested represents a life. Putting rapists behind bars should be a top priority and today I urge my colleagues in the Senate to once again pass this bill unanimously. With Congressman Green's leadership in the House, I hope we can match their commitment to getting rapists behind bars. DNA evidence is our best weapon to fight rapists - DNA doesn't lie, it is not intimidated by defense counsel, yet it is not being used effectively. The failure to process DNA evidence quickly and correctly has not only left thousands of victims without justice, but it keeps rapists on the streets, where they can strike again and again."

"Each kit that's thrown away represents a life," said Ms. Smith. "I can't tell you the relief I felt when they told me, 'We have the DNA evidence.' It was the first time in six and a half years I could feel myself breathe."

Meredith Wagner, Executive Vice-President, Lifetime Television, the #1 rated basic cable network, announced that nearly 80,000 people have signed their on-line petition drive in support of the Debbie Smith Act.

, Executive Vice-President, Lifetime Television, the #1 rated basic cable network, announced that nearly people have signed their on-line petition drive in support of the Debbie Smith Act.

Their website is www.lifetimetv.com.

"The Debbie Smith Act" as introduced in the 108th Congress, does the following:

  • DIRECTS THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO COUNT THE NUMBER OF RAPE KITS:

Requires the Attorney General to do an exact tally of the rape kit backlog. The estimates now range from 160,000 to 500,000 kits nationwide. In order to combat the problem of backlog, we should have a better estimate of how many we are dealing with.

  • PROVIDES MONEY TO ADDRESS THE BACKLOG:

Authorizes $15 million per year from this fiscal year through 2008 to test offender DNA samples. It also authorizes $75 million per year from this year through 2007 for testing crime scene evidence which will help eliminate the extensive backlog in rape kits, strengthen insufficient laboratory equipment and inadequate staffing, keep pace with the ever-expanding amount of offender samples to be tested

  • CALLS ON THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE TO DEVELOP A NATIONAL PROTOCOL FOR THE COLLECTION OF DNA EVIDENCE

And will also ensure that states applying for funds will comply with FBI quality protocols.

  • GIVES GRANTS TO ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN SEXUAL ASSAULT EXAMINER PROGRAMS
  • TRAINS LAW ENFORCEMENT AND PROSECUTORS TO HANDLE DNA EVIDENCE AND HOW TO USE DNA EVIDENCE IN COURTROOMS

Congresswoman Maloney continued, "It is estimated that there may be as many as 500,000 rape kits sitting on shelves across the country - collecting dust and waiting to be tested. Each kit left untested represents someone like Debbie Smith who had to wait years before she knew her attacker was behind bars - she had to wait years before she knew she and her family were safe. This bill provides the funding critical to immediately relieving the backlog."

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