Bill Includes Bennet's Bipartisan Bill to Reduce Rape Kit Backlog and Bennet-backed Provision to Increase Safety on College Campuses
Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today praised the Senate’s swift reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which he cosponsored.
Included in the bill are Bennet’s SAFER Act, which would help reduce the national backlog of rape kits, and the Campus SaVE Act, a provision Bennet cosponsored that aims to increase safety on college campuses. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives.
“This is a major milestone for victims of sexual assault and abuse. This bill provides them with critical and much-needed resources as they begin the difficult work of moving on with their lives,” Bennet said. “It also includes measures that will improve safety for women on college campuses and help reduce our national backlog of rape kits. Now, it’s up to the House to pass this important bill quickly – we can’t keep survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse waiting any longer.”
VAWA advances efforts to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The bill provides essential resources to state and local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes and to non-profit organizations that supply essential services for victims and survivors. The act was originally enacted in 1994 as Title IV of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. It expired in 2011 and was reauthorized by the Senate last year. However, the House of Representatives failed to bring either the Senate bill or its own version up for consideration.
VAWA includes a provision based on the bipartisan Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting Act, or the SAFER Act, re-introduced earlier this year by Bennet and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). The SAFER Act is designed to reduce the national backlog of rape kits by helping state and local governments conduct audits of rape kits in law enforcement storage facilities and increasing available funds for crime labs to process those kits. The SAFER Act passed the Senate with unanimous support in December at the end of the last session. A slightly different version passed in the House. However, Congress did not work out the differences between the two bills before the 112th Session adjourned and they expired. The bill has the strong support of the Fraternal Order of Police and victim’s advocacy groups including the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
VAWA also includes a provision based on the bipartisan Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, or the Campus SaVE Act, which Bennet cosponsored. This measure would increase safety on college campuses by improving reporting of incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, as well as increasing transparency by improving information about schools’ prevention programs and disciplinary actions.