Maloney Hails Senate Passage of Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act

Dec 17, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney’s (D-NY) H.R. 777 – Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2019 passed the Senate by unanimous consent. This bipartisan bill was introduced with Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO) in January and passed the House in October.

“Too many victims of violent crime are being denied justice because forensic labs across this country don’t have the resources to process DNA evidence – the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program is changing that, said Rep. Maloney. “I first wrote and passed the Debbie Smith Act after hearing testimony from the bill’s namesake, Debbie Smith, that it took 6 years for her rape kit to be tested. When the Debbie Smith Act first passed, it was called the ‘the most important anti-rape legislation ever signed into law.’ The results of the grant program speak for themselves. This funding keeps rapists and other criminals off the streets. And equally important, the program is instrumental in delivering some measure of justice to survivors of violence. I urge the President to sign this reauthorization bill immediately.”

“I am thrilled that the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act has finally passed the Senate,” said Rep. Wagner. “Survivors of sexual assault have looked to us for leadership since this critical DNA testing program was allowed to lapse in September. Now that the Debbie Smith Act is being reauthorized, our communities can better identify and prosecute violent predators and find justice for the survivors who have bravely come forward to pursue their attackers. Alongside sexual assault survivors, I have been whipping my colleagues and Senators in a push to get this done ever since we introduced this legislation. While these vital programs should never have been allowed to lapse at all, I am pleased that our continued efforts to get this legislation over the finish line worked, and I look forward to President Trump signing it into law.”

Background

Congresswoman Maloney is the author of the Debbie Smith Act, which first passed in 2004. The legislation created a grant program that provides much-needed resources to state and local law enforcement agencies to conduct forensic analysis of DNA evidence collected from crime scenes, including untested rape kits.

The National Institute of Justice reports that since 2005, Debbie Smith funding is responsible for 192,000 – or about 42% - of DNA matches in the FBI database. As improved technology enables more collection of DNA evidence, demand for grant funding has consistently increased.

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