Congress Introduces Legislation to Reauthorize Funding to End the Rape Kit Backlog

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 17, 2023

Contact: Erinn Robinson

Director of Media Relations

erinnr@rainn.org

           Congress Introduces Legislation to Reauthorize Funding to End the Rape Kit Backlog

Washington, D.C. - A bipartisan group of members of Congress introduced the Debbie Smith Act of 2023. This bill reauthorizes funding towards public crime laboratories to process DNA evidence from rapes and other violent crimes.

At any given time, there are thousands of rape kits sitting in law enforcement evidence rooms or awaiting testing at state and local labs. These rape kits often times contain the DNA of violent sexual offenders who have not yet been arrested. When these kits remain untested, perpetrators have the opportunity to reoffend in their communities. According to a 2019 study by Dr. Rebecca Campbell, 39% of sexual offenders identified in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) were serial offenders with a range of two to 15 sexual assaults each. CODIS is a national DNA information repository managed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This repository allows state and local laboratories to store and compare DNA profiles from crime scenes and convicted perpetrators.

The Debbie Smith Act, which RAINN has helped pass since 2004, authorizes funding for state and local crime laboratories to build capacity to analyze DNA samples. This funding has aided in the arrest of violent offenders, including serial sexual offenders. Since its inception in 2004, the program has:

  • Funded the processing of more than 860,000 DNA cases,
  • Contributed to more than half of CODIS’s forensic profiles (604,102 DNA profiles), and
  • Uploaded 3.5 million database offender samples to CODIS.

“The number of untested kits is still in the thousands,” said Samantha Cadet, Director of Federal Affairs, Appropriations, and National Coalitions for RAINN. “Addressing the backlog and keeping up with the demand to test incoming kits will keep our communities safe. We applaud Sens. Cornyn, Graham, Feinstein, Klobuchar, and Reps. Wagner, Cohen, Jackson Lee, Cline, and Hunt for taking the lead on reauthorizing such an important program that ensures offenders are apprehended and survivors receive justice.”

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About RAINN

RAINN, the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization, created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, help organizations improve their sexual assault prevention and response programs, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, free, confidential help is available 24/7 by calling 800.656.HOPE (4673) or visiting online.rainn.org.

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