WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX), and Jim Costa (D-CA) along with Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), announced the introduction of the Justice for All Reauthorization Act of 2016. This bipartisan bill builds on the 2004 Justice for All Act to improve the criminal justice system and ensure public confidence in it.

The Justice for all Reauthorization Act of 2016 strengthens crime victims’ rights and programs, by increasing access to restitution to federal crime victims, and reauthorizes programs used to notify crime victims that they have the right to be heard in court, with legal assistance. The Act further reduces the rape kit backlog and provides resources for forensic labs, while protecting the innocent by improving access to post-conviction DNA testing.

“The 2004 Justice for All Act took a big step forward in increasing resources devoted to DNA and other forensic technology,” said Rep. Ted Poe. “As a former prosecutor and judge and co-chair of the Victims’ Rights Caucus, I have had personal experience working with victims of crime whose lives and families' lives have been torn apart.  Reauthorizing JFA strengthens protections for victims, provides resources to law enforcement and crime labs, and protects the innocent.”

From providing vital resources for forensic testing to reducing the rape kit backlog and improving the safety of our prisons, this bipartisan legislation supports victims of crime, law enforcement, and the courts,” said Rep. Jim Costa. “Furthermore, as co-chair of the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus, ensuring that victims of crime have access to the assistance they need is among one of my top priorities, and that is why I strongly support provisions in the bill that would support victim services like national domestic violence hotlines and child advocacy services. “

“The Justice for All Act has increased law enforcement resources, protected the innocent from wrongful convictions, and helped deliver justice for victims across the country” said Sen. John Cornyn. “Reauthorizing this important piece of legislation will continue to provide victims with the support necessary to restore their lives, and continue to give law enforcement the tools to put more criminals behind bars.”

“As a former prosecutor, I have great faith in our criminal justice system and in the men and women who have dedicated their lives to making it work,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy. “But we also know that our justice system is imperfect.  Innocent people, like my friend Kirk Bloodsworth, are sometimes convicted, and even sentenced to death.  Dozens of exonerations made possible by the Justice for All Act are testament enough to its value. It is past time for Congress to reauthorize this vital law to ensure that law enforcement and crime victims have the resources they need and that our justice system serves us all.”

Justice for All works to improve the administration of criminal justice programs, by increasing accountability for federal funds, requiring the Justice Department to assist state and local governments to improve their indigent defense systems. Additionally, it ensures the implementation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act. 

The House bill is a companion measure to Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) legislation.

Representatives Poe and Costa are founding members and co-chairmen of the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus (VRC). Senator Cornyn and Leahy are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.