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Tara Ballesteros
Director for Public Affairs
202.467.8743 (office)
tballesteros@ncvc.org

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Sam Webster
Technology and Policy Support Officer
202.467.8751
swebster@ncvc.org

 

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National Center for Victims of Crime applauds reauthorization of bill funding rape kit testing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 19, 2014
Contact: Tara Ballesteros
tballesteros@ncvc.org
202-467-8743

Washington, DC -- Yesterday, the Senate voted unanimously to continue—through the successful Debbie Smith Act—to provide crucial funding to state and local crime laboratories to ensure timely analysis of sexual assault evidence (also known as rape kits) and other DNA evidence.  The National Center for Victims of Crime thanks Senator Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Cornyn (R-TX) for their leadership on this important issue. The House passed the bill in April and it is now on its way to the president for his signature.

The Debbie Smith Act, originally passed in 2004 and reauthorized in 2008, has provided over $584 million to crime labs for DNA analysis that has helped identify perpetrators of the most violent crimes—rape and murder—and take them off the streets. The Act has made a significant dent in the national backlog of rape kits. Yet, communities across the country are still struggling to keep up with DNA analysis. Continued funding is essential to ensure that our crime labs have the resources they need to test evidence from sexual assaults and other violent crimes and enter the results into the national DNA database.

“Every untested rape kit has the potential to solve a crime and get serial rapists and murderers into custody,” said Mai Fernandez, executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime. “Testing rape kits has proven to bring answers and justice to victims, and make for safer communities.”

Background on the Debbie Smith Act

The Debbie Smith Act is named for a Williamsburg, Virginia, woman who was kidnapped from her home and raped in the adjoining woods in 1989. The offender was not identified until 1995 when forensic testing was completed.  After her assailant was brought to justice, Debbie and her husband, Rob, set out to ensure that crime labs have the resources they need to promptly analyze sexual-assault evidence kits so that serial rapists can be identified and removed from communities.

Visit our DNA Resource Center for more information on untested sexual assault kits at www.VictimsofCrime.org/DNA.

The National Center for Victims of Crime, established in 1985, is the nation’s leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them. For more than 25 years, the National Center has led this nation’s struggle to provide crime victims with the rights, protections, and services they need to rebuild their lives.