Congressman John Carter (TX-31) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the Justice Served Act this week. This bill directs funding to state and local jurisdictions to prosecute violent criminals who have been identified through newly discovered DNA evidence. They are joined by Representatives Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Bill Pascrell (NJ-09) Ted Poe (TX-02), John Ratcliffe (TX-04), Dave Reichert (WA-08), Adam Schiff (CA-28), Lamar Smith (TX-21), and Eric Swalwell (CA-15) in introducing this important legislation. For far too long, cold cases have sat dormant on investigators’ desks because there has been no identifiable suspect. This bill will ensure those found responsible through new DNA evidence are prosecuted.
“Rape victims have the right to know who their attackers are. We must give closure to victims and prosecute the outlaws who commit these crimes,” Representative Poe said. “The Justice Served Act will bring justice to victims of crime and their families by giving prosecutors the tools they need to investigate, solve, and close cold cases. This is absolutely the right thing to do for families and thousands of victims who have fallen prey to predators.”
“Criminals will no longer be able to escape justice by hiding behind this onerous backlog. As a former judge, I understand the importance of ensuring prosecutors have the resources necessary to prosecute violent and heinous crimes in a timely manner and to the fullest extent of the law,” Congressman Carter said. “The Justice Served Act will allow us to prosecute criminals identified through DNA testing, and ensure they are never given the opportunity to commit such crimes again. My hope is that victims and their families will be able to find peace and closure once they see justice served.”
“Victims of heinous crimes, including sexual assault, deserve to have their attackers brought to justice, and in order for that to happen, our law enforcement officers must have the proper tools at their disposal,” said Sen. Cornyn. “This bill will enhance prosecutors’ capacity to utilize advances in DNA testing to solve and prosecute cold cases and provide closure to families who have sometimes been waiting years for justice.”
“As the author of the Debbie Smith Act, I am incredibly proud of the impact the law has had in improving capacity of local precincts and labs to reduce rape kit backlogs and apprehend rapists. Sexual offenders are characteristically recidivists. Timely testing of DNA kits in the aftermath of sexual assault not only prevents future assaults, but can also lead to breakthroughs in cold cases,” said Representative Maloney. “Local law enforcement agencies need this grant program – and Congress must continue to adequately fund it - to address rape kit backlogs to put rapists behind bars and provide justice for survivors. I’m proud to cosponsor the Justice Served Act today with my colleague, Congressman John Carter.”
“It is vital for us to ensure our criminal justice system possesses the resources necessary to prosecute crimes and deliver justice for victims,” said Representative Ratcliffe. “I’m proud to support the Justice Served Act, which will help our law enforcement identify criminals in cold cases and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Having seen firsthand the value of DNA testing, I am proud to cosponsor this important legislation,” saidRepresentative Reichert. “It is because of DNA testing that my team and I were able to arrest Gary Ridgway in the Green River serial murder case which led to his pleading guilty to 49 counts of murder. With thousands of tip sheets, it was DNA testing in the early 2000s that was influential in confirming what we had suspected since the 1980s. In fact, it was one of the first times DNA was successfully used in a criminal case. Since then, law enforcement’s use of DNA in the prosecution of crimes has made tremendous strides, and it is time we give them the needed resources to prosecute cases that went cold due to a lack of evidence. This essential legislation supports the important work our law enforcement is doing and I strongly support it.”
“Giving local prosecutors grants to re-open and prosecute cold cases in which new DNA evidence has come to light means closure for victims and their families, and safer communities,” Representative Swalwell said. “As a former prosecutor myself, I know this is an investment in justice for all of us.”
This bill amends the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act. DNA evidence plays an important role in solving crimes, which is why Congress has appropriated over $100 million per year for the last decade, to reduce the DNA backlogs and improve crime laboratory capacity. The bill ensures we are not simply shifting the backlog from DNA evidence kits to state prosecutors. The Justice Served Act capitalizes on these investments by allowing a portion of the Debbie Smith grant to be allocated to prosecute these DNA linked cold cases.
The Justice Served Act is supported by the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), Debbie Smith, the Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA), the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), the Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA), the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and the National Association of Police Organizations.