April 18, 2013 — Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Jim Costa (D-CA) and other members of the Congressional Victims' Rights Caucus today honored RAINN's work helping survivors and fighting sexual violence. At a ceremony on Capitol Hill attended by anti-crime organizations and members of Congress, Poe, the caucus co-chair, presented RAINN president Scott Berkowitz with the Suzanne McDaniel Memorial Award for Public Awareness, which is named for a victims' rights pioneer.
According to Poe, RAINN was nominated for the award in part for its leadership and longtime work to end the backlog of untested rape kits, including helping to pass the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act, which was signed into law last month. SAFER, sponsored by Poe along with Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), will help eliminate the backlog of untested DNA evidence from unsolved rape cases and take countless rapists off the streets. SAFER will bring transparency to the testing process and increase the efficiency of the criminal justice system by more effectively targeting areas with large backlogs. The bill requires participating law enforcement agencies to audit and publicly disclose their backlogs for the first time. It also reallocates existing funding to ensure that much more gets spent directly on testing evidence and solving cases (without increasing the deficit). Learn more about the SAFER Act.
While presenting Berkowitz with the award, Poe praised RAINN's work, saying, “RAINN’s tireless efforts to both prevent sexual violence and advocate for victims has led to real change. This organization was vital in the passage of the Debbie Smith Act, DNA Fingerprint Act, Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act and most recently, the SAFER Act. I look forward to continuing the partnership between RAINN and the Victims’ Rights Caucus to advocate for victims nationwide. Together we can move closer to making our shared goals of eliminating sexual violence and delivering justice to victims a reality.”
Berkowitz thanked the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus for the award, saying, “It's a great honor to receive this award from the Congressional caucus, which is made up of our closest friends and allies on Capitol Hill. It was particularly nice to be presented the award by Judge Poe, whose leadership and sponsorship of the SAFER Act, Peace Corps bill and other legislation has been an enormous help as we work towards our common goal of eliminating sexual violence.”
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of "America's 100 Best Charities" by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org) in partnership with more than 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. The hotlines have helped more than 1.8 million people since 1994. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice. For more information about RAINN, please visit rainn.org.