from Sen. Franken’s office
The Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault Act was introduced last week. U.S. Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.), and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced the Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault Act of 2009. The House companion bill will be introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).
The legislation will work to reduce the national backlog of over 180,000 untested rape kits currently in police storage. It will also address several other problems that work to deny justice to victims of sexual assault – including the denial of free rape kits to survivors of sexual assault and the shortage of trained health professionals capable of administering rape kit exams.
“These backlogs have serious consequences for law enforcement and public safety,” said Sen. Franken. “We just learned of a case where a rapist struck both a pregnant woman and a minor while the rape kit for one of his earlier victims sat unprocessed at a crime lab. It takes about a week to process a DNA evidence sample and there is no reason that every rape kit completed should not be tested in a timely manner.”
“It’s unacceptable that rape kits sit around for months or even years while the perpetrators are still out on the streets potentially harming others. Victims deserve justice in a timely manner and our bill works to ensure that this back log is a thing of the past,” Sen. Grassley said.
“The denial of a rape kit to a woman in any jurisdiction and for any reason is unacceptable,” Sen. Feinstein said.
“I am proud to sponsor this critical legislation that will strengthen the Debbie Smith Act and provide grant incentives to law enforcement to clear their backlog of forensic samples,” said Sen. Hatch. “The inventory of DNA samples waiting processing in our nation is nearly 200,000. This is simply unacceptable to victims of sexual assaults who deserve quick resolution of their cases.  This bill will also provide much-needed assistance to rural and tribal communities in collecting and processing evidence from sexual assaults.