Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2008 Introduced

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. 

The original “Debbie Smith Act” was signed into law in 2004 as part of “The Justice for All Act,” comprehensive legislation that ensured that DNA evidence could be used to convict the guilty and free the innocent.  Since then, millions of dollars of federal funding have been appropriated under the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program to process the thousands of unprocessed DNA evidence kits - including rape kits - across the country. 

“Passing the original Debbie Smith bill was a huge victory for Debbie, and for the thousands of rape survivors like her.  Our bill is set to expire soon, but I will not stand by and let rapists roam free while the DNA evidence that could convict them goes unprocessed.  Reauthorizing the Debbie Smith Act will ensure we continue to keep rapists off our streets and put them in prison where they belong,” said Congresswoman Maloney.

“Congress has a responsibility to ensure justice for rape victims and tough sentences for rapists,” stated Ranking Member Smith. “The Debbie Smith Act helps law enforcement officials identify, apprehend and prosecute rapists by reducing the DNA backlog.  Debbie Smith’s courageous efforts have brought justice to rape victims nationwide.  This important legislation protects women by providing federal funding to process the DNA evidence needed to take violent criminals off the streets.”

Representative Maloney authored the original “Debbie Smith Act” after rape survivor Debbie Smith testified before the House Government Reform Committee in June 2001 about using DNA evidence to solve rape cases.  Debbie Smith was raped near her home in 1989.  For six and a half years, she lived in fear that her attacker would return to kill her.  Only on the day that Debbie’s husband told her that the man who had raped Debbie - who had been identified because of DNA evidence – was already in prison, was Debbie able to live without fear. 

A bipartisan coalition of members of Congress, organizations, and crime victims like Debbie Smith worked together to pass the original “Debbie Smith Act.”  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.  The bill is set to expire at the end of FY 2009. 

For more information on the Debbie Smith Act, click here: