Cornyn, other Senators introduce bill to help fight national rape kit backlog

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KTAB/KRBC) - A group of four U.S. Senators has introduced a bill aimed at reducing the national backlog of untested rape kits.

Senators John Cornyn, Amy Klobuchar, Dean Heller and Michael Bennett introduced the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting Act to reauthorize, strengthen and expand the Sexual Assault Forensic Registry Program.

The program was created in 2013 as part of the Sexual Assault Forensic Registry Act, authored by Senators Cornyn and Bennett. The legislation helped law enforcement reduce the backlog through funds under the Debbie Smith Act, and increased funds spent on untested rape kits by 35 percent. It provided funds for state and local law enforcement to conduct 1-year audits of untested sexual assault cases, uncovering tens of thousands of untested rape kits.

“The backlog of untested kits sitting in labs and evidence lockers across the country is unacceptable and only adds to the pain of survivors. This bill ensures our state and local law enforcement agencies continue to have the resources to solve crimes, and provide survivors with the justice they deserve,” Sen. Cornyn said.  “I look forward to reauthorizing and strengthening this bipartisan legislation that has already done so much for survivors.”

“It’s a tragedy that unprocessed rape kits are sitting in storage when they could hold the answers to unsolved crimes,” Klobuchar said. “Reauthorizing this bipartisan legislation will strengthen law enforcement’s efforts to reduce the number of untested rape kits and help put perpetrators behind bars.”

“Victims of sexual assault deserve swift justice and nothing less,” Heller said. “This bill helps Nevada law enforcement in their efforts to cut down on the backlog of untested rape kits and ensure critical evidence isn’t left collecting dust. I have a long history of supporting and authoring proposals to crack down on these horrific crimes and aid victims on a path to recovery and closure. I’m proud to join Senator Cornyn in introducing this important bipartisan legislation that empowers law enforcement to fight sexual assault crimes.”

“Survivors of sexual violence deserve thorough and fair investigations,” Bennet said. “Right now, critical DNA evidence sits untested because law enforcement agencies lack the necessary tools and training to process it. The SAFER Act makes commonsense reforms to address our nation’s rape-kit backlog and ensure that justice is served.”


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