This week, bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) to reauthorize, strengthen, and extend the Sexual Assault Forensic Registry program in an effort to help reduce the national rape kit backlog passed the Senate.
“The SAFER Act takes an important step towards reducing the national rape-kit backlog, which in turn will help bring justice to victims and strengthen public safety,” said Senator Tillis. “I am proud to join this bipartisan effort and hope that the House will send this legislation to the President’s desk soon.”
“This bill will empower law enforcement to identify and test more backlogged rape kits, help take criminals off the streets, and deliver justice for survivors,” Sen. Cornyn said. “I applaud the Senate for coming together to get this legislation over the finish line, and I urge my colleagues in the House to advance it quickly.”
“The idea that we have evidence laying around in labs that we could be using to bring criminals to justice is unacceptable,” said Klobuchar. “Passing this bipartisan legislation in the Senate is an important step forward in providing more resources for our law enforcement."
“Victims of sexual assault deserve swift justice and nothing less,” said Heller. “Today’s unanimous passage of this bipartisan bill represents an important step toward helping Nevada law enforcement in their efforts to cut down on the backlog of untested rape kits and ensure critical evidence isn’t left collecting dust. I’m proud to partner with Senator Cornyn on this legislation and see it garner wide, bipartisan support. As a strong supporter and author of proposals to crack down on these horrific crimes and aid victims on a path to recovery and closure, I urge the U.S. House to pass this bill and send it to the President’s desk.”
“Law enforcement must have access to resources and training to process rape kits, so survivors of sexual violence receive the thorough and fair investigations they deserve,” Bennet said. “Colorado worked to end its backlog of rape kits in 2015 – a process that took two years and millions of dollars. The SAFER Act will help other states make the same progress and ensure justice is served. We applaud the SAFER Act’s passage in the Senate, and we encourage its speedy passage in the House.”
The SAFER Act was introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Michael Bennet (D-CO). Joining Senator Tillis as co-sponsors are Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chris Coons (D-DE), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Rob Portman (R-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), John Kennedy (R-LA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV).
The legislation also ensures pediatric forensic nurses are eligible for training, which addresses the need for pediatric sexual assault nurse examiners in responding to children suffering from abuse.