Congressional Leaders, Debbie Smith and Ed Smart Celebrate Forensic DNA and its Impact on the Fight Against Sexual Violence
Senator John Cornyn, Ms. Jayann Sepich and RAINN's
VP for Public Policy, Rebecca O'Connor, on DNA Day
Members of Congress today came together to celebrate DNA at an event on Capitol Hill. The event, in honor of Forensic DNA Day 2014, was sponsored by RAINN and the National Center for Victims of Crime.
“DNA is the most important tool we have today in prosecuting rapists,” said RAINN’s president and founder, Scott Berkowitz, in thanking the members of Congress who sponsored the Debbie Smith Act. The law, originally passed in 2004, is credited with taking thousands of rapists off the streets. It is up for renewal by Congress this year.
The country’s top DNA technology companies — Thermo Fisher Scientific, Bode Technology Group, COPAN, the Global Alliance for Rapid DNA, IntegenX and NMS Labs — showcased their state-of-the-art sexual assault kit processing and other forensic solutions at the event.
Rape survivor Debbie Smith, after whom the federal law is named, reminded Congressional attendees that every rape kit that has not been tested for DNA represents a real victim who has yet to receive justice. Ed Smart, father of survivor and activist Elizabeth Smart, also spoke and expressed, on behalf of himself and his daughter, gratitude for the work of RAINN and NCVC and support for the expanded use of DNA and high-tech tools to improve public safety.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), who sponsored the original Debbie Smith law, gave remarks and expressed the importance of federal grants and legislative action that can help lead to arrests and reduction of the rape kit backlog. Also in attendance and lending support were Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Joye Frost, Director of the Office for Victims of Crime, and representatives from many other congressional offices, agencies and organizations supportive of this work.
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 1.9 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.