Klobuchar-Backed Legislation to Reduce Rape Kit Backlogs Signed into Law
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced that the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act was signed into law. The Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act gives much-needed resources to state and local law enforcement agencies to complete forensic analyses of crime scenes and untested rape kits. The law, which was led by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and John Cornyn (R-TX), passed the House in October and the Senate in December.
"The fact that we have evidence lying around in labs that could be used to bring criminals to justice is unacceptable. As a former prosecutor, I know that behind every unprocessed rape kit is a victim of sexual assault wondering if they will ever see justice," Klobuchar said. "Now that the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act has been signed into law, our law enforcement officers will have more resources to process untested rape kits and other DNA evidence, find answers to unsolved crimes, and put criminals behind bars."
The Debbie Smith Act, which was originally signed into law in 2005, provides resources for the testing of DNA evidence, including rape kits, from unsolved crimes nationwide, DNA training and education for law enforcement, correctional personnel, and court officers, and the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Program, which supports forensic nurse training throughout the country. Since it became law, more than 641,000 DNA cases have been processed.
Klobuchar is a national leader in the fight to help victims of rape and sexual assault. She is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and prior to her time in the Senate, Klobuchar served as Hennepin County Attorney. In January, Klobuchar and Cornyn reintroduced the Abby Honold Act--bipartisan legislation that would promote the use of trauma-informed techniques in responding to sexual assault crimes. In 2018, Klobuchar and Cornyn's SAFER Act--legislation that would reauthorize, strengthen, and extend the Sexual Assault Forensic Registry program in an effort to help reduce the national rape kit backlog--was signed into law. In 2016, the Klobuchar-backed bipartisan Justice for All Reauthorization Act was signed into law. The law strengthens the rights of crime victims by providing the protection they need to restore their lives and enhances law enforcement's ability to proactively stop violent criminals. The Justice for All Reauthorization Act also aims to reduce the rape kit backlog by supporting grant programs that fund forensic testing.