Apr 1, 2004
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - The Department of Justice (DOJ) today released a report estimating that there are approximately 169,000 rape cases nationwide with possible DNA evidence that remains untested. The Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology Act (HR 3214) – which contains provisions of the Debbie Smith Act that would expedite testing of the rape evidence kits – has bipartisan support and passed the House easily late last year is currently stalled in the Senate.

The National Forensic DNA Study Report, commissioned by DOJ, was completed in December and released today. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), a long time supporter and original sponsor of the Debbie Smith Act, and Rep. Mark Green (R-WI), who introduced the Debbie Smith Act in the 108th Congress, today pleaded with their colleagues in the Senate after the release of DOJ’s numbers.

“We can get rapists off the streets and lock them up starting right now,” said Maloney. “The number of untested rape evidence kits is a horrifying injustice to the victims of sexual assault. Fortunately, we are in a unique situation in this case – we can remedy this terrible news as soon as today with one vote of the Senate.

“The legislation has been written, it went through the House easily, now it’s just waiting for approval from the other body. I ask my colleagues in the Senate to pass the legislation today so that we can start getting rapists off the streets tomorrow.”

“Today’s announcement that an estimated 170,000 rape evidence kits have yet to be submitted for analyis is outrageous and unacceptable,” Green said. “These kits hold the key to getting rapists off the streets, and giving victims peace of mind in knowing that their attackers are behind bars. It’s time for the Senate to move this critical legislation forward and bring long-awaited justice to thousands of rape victims across the country.”

Representative Maloney authored the original “Debbie Smith Act” after 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, Debbie lived in fear that her attacker would return to kill her. Only on the day that her husband told her that the man who had raped Debbie, who had been identified because of DNA evidence, already was in prison, was Debbie able to live without fear.

H.R. 2874, “The Debbie Smith Act,” which was introduced in the 107th Congress, garnered 160 bipartisan cosponsors and would have authorized $410,000,000 over three years for processing the backlog of DNA evidence and for training Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners. H.R. 1046, introduced in the 108th Congress, expands upon the original legislation by authorizing funding for training law enforcement and prosecutors in the handling of DNA evidence and by authorizing the issuance of “John Doe” indictments in federal sexual assault cases. This legislation was encompassed into H.R. 3214, the “Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology Act.”