Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) released the following statement on Thursday’s unanimous passage of the Debbie Smith Act of 2019, legislation to reauthorize funding for the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program and give much-needed resources to state and local law enforcement agencies to complete forensic analyses of crime scenes and untested rape kits.
“Named after a survivor who had to wait six years for justice through DNA evidence, the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program has been instrumental in reducing the backlog of unprocessed rape kits and DNA evidence across the country. Access to timely and accurate DNA testing and analysis is crucial to help identify and hold perpetrators accountable. Reauthorizing this important program will help keep violent offenders off the streets and give victims the justice they deserve.”
The Debbie Smith Act was originally signed into law in 2004 to provide local and state crime laboratories resources to end the backlog of untested DNA evidence from unsolved crimes, analyze DNA samples, and increase the capacity to process DNA in order to guard against future backlogs. Since it became law, more than 641,000 DNA cases have been processed. In addition to crime scene evidence, Debbie Smith Act funds are also utilized to process offender DNA samples to ensure evidence from unsolved crimes can be matched against a database of known offenders, similar to the criminal fingerprint databases.