Aims to Reduce National Backlog of Rape Kits
Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today urged his colleagues in the Senate to move quickly to pass the bipartisan Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act, which is included in the larger Violence Against Women Act that the Senate is considering this week.
“Victims of sexual assault and sexual violence have already been through enough. They should not have to wait for justice to be served while critical DNA evidence sits untested on dusty shelves,” Bennet said. “The SAFER Act makes commonsense reforms to provide local law enforcement agencies with the tools and flexibility to address our nation’s rape kit backlog.”
The SAFER Act would help 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. It would also establish advisory protocols and practices around handling crime scene DNA evidence, prioritize the analysis of untested rape kits, and better target existing resources.
Bennet reintroduced the SAFER Act to the Senate last month with his Republican colleague, Senator Jon Cornyn (R-TX). A companion bill was reintroduced to the House of Representatives at the same time by Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
Bennet and Cornyn originally introduced the SAFER Act to the Senate last May. It passed with unanimous support at the end of the year. 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.
In August, Bennet toured the Denver Crime Lab with leaders from victim’s rights groups to discuss the bill and raise awareness about the issue. According to victim’s rights groups, there is a national backlog of at least 400,000 rape kits sitting untested across the country.
The bill does not add to the deficit. It repurposes existing federal funds under the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program to better target reducing the backlog of crime scene DNA evidence, such as rape kits.
- Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA)
- Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV)
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)
- Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)
- National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV)
- National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA)
- Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)