SAFER Act would provide greater flexibility to local law enforcement agencies
Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, along with U.S. Senator Jon Cornyn (R-TX), Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), today reintroduced a bipartisan bill to help law enforcement agencies process rape kits more efficiently.
“The SAFER Act makes commonsense reforms to provide local law enforcement agencies with resources and flexibility to address the nation’s rape kit backlog,” said Bennet. “No victim of sexual assault should have to wait for justice while critical DNA evidence sits untested on dusty shelves. I urge my colleagues in both houses of Congress to pass this bipartisan measure as quickly as possible.”
“For far too long, an unacceptable national backlog of untested rape kits has compounded the pain for too many victims of sexual assault. Today, we take a significant step toward reducing that backlog and bringing swifter justice for millions of victims,” said Cornyn. “This bill enjoys broad, bipartisan support in Congress and getting this bill to the President’s desk will be a top priority for me.”
Bennet and Cornyn introduced the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act of 2013 in the Senate. It is designed to help reduce the backlog of rape kits by helping state and local governments conduct audits of rape kits in law enforcement storage facilities by 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. Poe and Maloney introduced their version, HR 254, in the House of Representatives.
Last May, Bennet and Cornyn introduced the SAFER Act into the Senate. 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)
- National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)