April 25, 2013
Contact: Kath Cummins
Bill Would Fund Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program until 2018
Washington, DC: Thousands more sexual assault victims will get justice if Congress passes the Justice for All Act of 2013, introduced today by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
This comprehensive victims’ rights law includes a re-authorization of the important Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program to reduce the backlog in testing of sexual assault kits (SAKs) throughout the nation.
“These victims wait for justice, often in fear, while their attackers are free to victimize others,” said National Center for Victims of Crime Executive Director Mai Fernandez.
“The Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program provides crucial funding to solve cases, achieve justice, and increase public safety everywhere,” said Ms. Fernandez.
Jurisdictions that clear their backlogs have produced impressive results. When New York City cleared its backlog of 16,000 untested kits, arrest rates soared to 70 percent, up from the national average of 20 percent. Additionally, the resulting evidence produced at least 2,000 matches in the national DNA database linking perpetrators to unrelated crimes or various other crimes, including burglaries.
The Justice for All Act also builds on the success of the Crime Victims Rights Act, ensuring victims are informed about their legal rights and their remedies if those rights are violated. Under certain circumstances, it also allows courts additional time to consider claims of violation of victims’ rights.
The National Center for Victims of Crime supports the Justice for All Act of 2013 and other measures to expand the revolutionary impact of DNA testing—such as testing the DNA of arrestees, as well as those convicted of crimes. Testing the DNA of arrestees (the policy at issue in the pending Supreme Court case of Maryland vs. King), will solve thousands of crimes and prevent future victimization.
For more information on forensic DNA and victimization, visit the National Center for Victims of Crime DNA Resource Center.
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.