Closer Look: RAINN’s Public Policy Team

In honor of RAINN’s 25th anniversary, each month we’ll be taking a closer look at the people and programs that are essential in our work to help survivors today and every day. This month, we’re shining a spotlight on RAINN’s public policy team. RAINN’s policy team works at federal and state levels to improve the criminal justice system, prevent sexual assault, and ensure justice for survivors.

Press Conference: RAINN Urges Congress to Renew Debbie Smith Act

Today Debbie Smith, a survivor and advocate, alongside RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, held a press conference announcing delivery of over 32,000 signatures from citizens across the nation urging Congress to pass the Debbie Smith Act when it returns next week.

RAINN Files Amicus Brief in Support of Cosby Conviction

As a court weighs Bill Cosby’s appeal of his conviction, RAINN and its pro bono legal team at Hogan Lovells, LLP, have filed a joint amicus brief arguing to uphold the verdict. The brief makes the case that the testimony of five additional victims who testified against Cosby established a pattern of behavior, and that the experiences of the witnesses were strikingly similar to the experience of Andrea Constand.

RAINN Statement: Rape Kit Backlog Becomes A 2020 Presidential Campaign Issue

RAINN released a statement following Sen. Kamala Harris’ announcement of a plan to eliminate the rape kit backlog. “An important step for Members of the House of Representatives would be to pass S.820, the Debbie Smith Act, which has passed the Senate and is currently awaiting action by House leadership.”

Rape Kit Law at Risk of Expiring Unless Congress Acts

The federal law that helps state crime labs test tens of thousands of rape kits every year, the Debbie Smith Act, will expire this fall unless Congress acts to renew it. Since 2005, there have been more than 455,000 matches of crime scene evidence to offenders’ DNA. Of these matches, 42 percent—more than four out of every 10—are the result of testing made possible by Debbie Smith Act grants.

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.

Bipartisan House Resolution Encourages Sexual Assault Kit Reform

A bipartisan group of representatives has introduced a House Resolution to encourage state legislatures to support sexual assault kit reform legislation to ensure the collection and timely testing of sexual assault kits—sometimes called “Rape Kits.” Part of the resolution will be to make sure sexual assault victims have the right to a sexual assault advocate and the ability to track their sexual assault kit results.

RAINN Statement on Cosby Sentence

The women who shared their stories in the Cosby trial and sentencing showed admirable courage and strength. We are grateful that the court understood the seriousness of Cosby’s crime and sentenced him to prison. Let’s hope that the legacy of this case is that victims feel empowered to come forward, knowing that it can truly make a difference in bringing perpetrators to justice.

RAINN Statement About Allegations Against Kavanaugh

Sexual assault is a crime, and every allegation should be thoroughly investigated. The allegations made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford are very serious. The Senate Judiciary Committee has a responsibility to hear from both Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford before voting on his nomination.

RAINN Supports Bipartisan Bill to Expand Access to Medical Services for Survivors

RAINN has worked closely with congressional leaders to inform the Survivors’ Access to Supportive Care Act (SASCA) and will continue to support efforts to pass the bill and similar measures.

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