Renewal of Key DNA Bill to be Considered in Congress

Debbie Smith Act Leads to 192,000 DNA Matches

The Debbie Smith Act (DSA), the federal government’s primary tool to eliminate the backlog of untested DNA evidence from unsolved rape cases, is responsible for nearly half of all matches to the FBI’s DNA database, CODIS. Now, Congress is about to consider whether to renew the program for five more years.

Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Ann Wagner (R-MO) have introduced a bill to reauthorize the DSA, and a Senate bill is expected soon from Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). The current law expires on September 30, so Congress must act soon to avoid having the current law expire.

DNA evidence from sexual assault cases not only helps law enforcement identify perpetrators in existing unsolved cases, but is crucial in identifying perpetrators and preventing them from committing future crimes.

Through the Debbie Smith Act:

  • More than 860,000 DNA cases have been processed and 192,000 DNA matches were made.
  • 376,000 DNA profiles from crime scenes have been uploaded to CODIS — 43% of all forensic profiles in CODIS, the national DNA database.
  • 3 million offender DNA profiles have been uploaded, which accounts for 18% of all offender profiles in CODIS.

“Rarely does one program have such an extraordinary impact on public safety,” said Scott Berkowitz, RAINN’s president. “We urge Congress to quickly renew the Debbie Smith Act, to ensure that crime labs have the resources they need to test DNA evidence. The Debbie Smith Act helps brings survivors and their families one step closer to the justice they deserve.”

“Too many victims of sexual assault never get the justice they deserve,” said Rep. Wagner. “DNA evidence is often the only way to find and convict abusers, but there is an appalling backlog for processing DNA samples across the country. We need to reduce this backlog in order to swiftly identify and arrest violent predators. Reauthorizing the Debbie Smith Act will provide our prosecutors with essential resources to tackle this backlog and make our communities safer.”

“The Debbie Smith Act has been called the most important anti-rape legislation ever signed into law for good reason; no rape survivor should be made to wait for justice because their local police precinct doesn’t have the resources to test their rape kit,” said Rep. Maloney. “This grant program is vital for local law enforcement and victims of crime across the country. We need to reauthorize this program so that precincts have the resources to process and match DNA evidence, including sexual assault kits, quickly and accurately.”

Seven out of 10 sexual assaults are committed by someone who knows the victim.

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