Rape Kit Backlog Legislation Passes Congress

Nation's key tool to eliminating rape kit backlog renewed through 2019

Debbie Smith headshot

The U.S. Senate today voted to renew the Debbie Smith Act, which has increased the use of DNA and helped solve thousands of open rape cases. The five-year extension was previously passed by the House, and is now headed to the president to be signed into law.

Since its initial passage in 2004, which RAINN championed, the Debbie Smith Act has provided crime labs with more than $600 million to test DNA, mostly from rape kits in unsolved rape cases. As a result, it has helped take thousands of rapists off the streets (while preventing them from committing more crimes).

"We applaud the Senate's vote today to renew the Debbie Smith Act, the nation's key tool to eliminate the backlog of rape kits that haven’t been tested for DNA. Today's vote will help crime labs test evidence from thousands of open rape cases, and will aid efforts to bring many rapists to justice. It will also support the implementation of the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER) Act, which will help law enforcement locate and test rape kits that have not yet been sent to a lab for testing."

"We are grateful to the leadership of Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and the tireless advocacy of Debbie Smith and other champions of this vital program."

- Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of RAINN

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