Washington, DC ñToday, Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced H.R. 6628, The Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER) Act of 2012. This bipartisan bill will help law enforcement process rape kits. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced the Senate companion bill in May.
ìVictims of crime should not be denied justice because of a bureaucratic backlog,î said Poe. ìIt is my hope that the SAFER Act will bring to light the necessity of testing rape kits as quickly as possible in order to bring swift justice to violent criminals. Victims of violent crime should not be left in the dark about the status of their case and have to live in fear while the perpetrators go about their everyday lives."
"I'm proud to join in sponsoring the new-and-improved SAFER Act with my friend and colleague Rep. Poe," Maloney said. "This version more closely matches the version voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and moves us that much closer to final passage-- without appropriating any new funds.
"Too many rape kits are sitting untested-- either in labs or in law enforcement storage facilities not even submitted to a lab! By establishing a grant mechanism to conduct audits of unprocessed kits to measure the backlog, and increasing the percentage of funds required to be used in kit processing, we can help reach the goal of zero backlog--giving rape victims closure that everything has been done to apprehend their attackers."
Currently, an estimated 400,000 rape kits sit untested in labs and on police storage shelves across the nationóeach one of them holding the potential to solve a crime, imprison a rapist and provide a victim with the justice they deserve. The SAFER Act will help state and local governments conduct audits of rape kits with no new spending by better targeting existing funds under the Debbie Smith Act.
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 registry 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.