Senate passes Cornyn-Bennet Bill to fight nationwide rape kit ba - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Senate passes Cornyn-Bennet Bill to fight nationwide rape kit backlog

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U.S. Senator John Cornyn U.S. Senator John Cornyn

United States Senator - Texas John Cornyn Office:

WASHINGTON (KYTX) — Today U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and former Texas Attorney General, issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act, a bipartisan bill to audit and reduce the backlog of untested rape kits sitting in the possession of law enforcement agencies across the country:  

"For far too long untested rape kits have been piling up due to limited resources prescribed by antiquated laws, denying justice and compounding the pain for an untold number of victims in cities across Texas and the nation. 

"Today we took a large step toward ensuring justice for victims of sexual assault. I'm encouraged by the unanimous support the SAFER Act received in the Senate and look forward to a vote on the House floor." 

Sen. Cornyn along with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced the legislation to fight the backlog, which experts have pegged as high as 400,000. Endorsed by key national victims' rights groups, this deficit-neutral bill will provide funding for state and local governments to conduct audits of untested DNA evidence and create a national reporting system to help track and prioritize untested rape kits. U.S. Reps. Ted Poe (TX-02) and Carolyn Maloney (NY-14) recently introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives. 

The SAFER Act 

  • Provides state and local governments with funding to conduct one year audits of the untested sexual assault evidence in their possession.
  • Creates a national reporting system to help track these audits, prioritize the analysis of untested rape kits and better target existing Debbie Smith Act appropriations.
  • Amends current law to require that at least 75% of Debbie Smith Act funds be spent directly on either analyzing untested DNA evidence or increasing the capacity of labs.
  • Allows the National Institute of Justice to publish a report on protocols used in cases that include DNA evidence, and allows SAFER Act grantees to use existing funds to implement those protocols.
  • Prohibits grantees from holding funds in offshore accounts and using funds for conferences and lobbying, and limits the amount of funds that may be used for administrative costs.

Support 

  • Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)
  • Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)
  • National Organization for Women (NOW)
  • Concerned Women for America (CWA)
  • National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)
  • National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV)
  • National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA)
  • Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA)
  • Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV)
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