SAFER Act of 2012 Introduced in U.S. House of Representatives
Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) today introduced the SAFER Act of 2012, a bipartisan bill that will help fix the backlog of untested DNA evidence from unsolved rape cases. At a press conference earlier today, RAINN president Scott Berkowitz joined Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Michael Bennet (D-CO), sponsors of the Senate bill, and Reps. Poe and Maloney to urge Congressional action during this session of Congress.
More than 100 anti-sexual violence organizations as well as the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) have joined RAINN in endorsing the bill and urging its passage.
"The SAFER Act is the vital next step in our efforts to eliminate the backlog of untested DNA evidence. It will not cost any additional money — it reallocates existing spending — and it will lead to testing more DNA evidence and taking more rapists off our streets," said Berkowitz. "It's no surprise that the lead sponsors of the SAFER Act are two people who often lead Congressional efforts to fight sexual violence and assist victims: Rep. Ted Poe, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Victims' Rights Caucus, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who authored the Debbie Smith Act."
In introducing the bill, Rep. Maloney said, "We must help law enforcement eliminate the rape kit backlog once and for all. Despite extensive evidence that we are making progress on eliminating the backlog, growing demand and the lack of reliable data on the nature and size of the remaining backlog persist. My Debbie Smith Act improved funding for all DNA processing, but this bill would allocate a portion of that funding to help law enforcement get a handle on their existing rape kit backlog and to provide the resources to process and track it. The tools in this bill would empower victims — and get rapists off the street that much faster."
At today’s press conference Rep. Maloney added, “This is law enforcement at its smartest and it’s also Congress at its smartest. This legislation does not cost any money. It is bipartisan, we are working together and we hope to pass it in the next three weeks.”
"Rape kits are sitting on shelves in precincts across the country while rapists walk free," Rep. Ted Poe said. "We know there is a problem with rape kit backlogs, we just don’t know the extent of this problem. The SAFER Act gives localities the ability to audit their backlog and bring transparency and accountability to the testing process through the creation of a national online rape kit registry. It will inform victims, law enforcement and the public about the extent of the backlog throughout the country. It 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."
In addition to bringing transparency to the testing process, the SAFER Act will increase the efficiency of the criminal justice system by more effectively targeting areas with the most significant backlogs. The bill was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee this summer, and is awaiting action by the full Senate and the House.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of "America's 100 Best Charities" by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org) in partnership with more than 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. The hotlines have helped more than 1.8 million people since 1994. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice. For more information about RAINN, please visit rainn.org.