Bennet Introduces Bill to Help Reduce National Rape Kit Backlog

Washington, D.C. - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), along with Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Dean Heller (R-NV), today introduced the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act to reauthorize, strengthen, and extend the Sexual Assault Forensic Registry program in an effort to help reduce the national rape kit backlog.

"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."

In addition to reauthorizing this program, the legislation would ensure pediatric forensic nurses are eligible for training, highlighting the need for pediatric sexual assault nurse examiners in responding to children suffering from abuse.

Click HERE for a one-page summary of the bill.

In 2013, Bennet and Cornyn authored the Sexual Assault Forensic Registry Act, a law creating the SAFER Program, which has helped law enforcement reduce the rape kit backlog through existing funds under the Debbie Smith Act. The legislation increased the amount of these funds spent on untested kits by 35 percent and allowed 5-7 percent to be used on SAFER program audits. It helps state and local law enforcement agencies address both the laboratory and storage backlogs by providing funding to conduct one-year audits of untested sexual assault evidence, which has uncovered tens of thousands of untested rape kits on shelves and in labs across the nation.