Dec 18 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) that would reauthorize the Debbie Smith Act and give much-needed resources to state and local law enforcement agencies to complete forensic analysis of crime scenes and untested rape kits.

“In North Carolina alone, there are 15,000 untested rape kits,” said Senator Tillis. “Victims of this heinous crime deserve justice and we should be doing everything we can to put the perpetrators behind bars. I am proud this legislation unanimously passed the Senate and I hope it gets signed into law soon.”

The Debbie Smith Crime Victims Protection Act reauthorizes the Debbie Smith Act to continue the testing of DNA evidence, including rape kits, from unsolved crimes nationwide, DNA training and education for law enforcement, correctional personnel, and court officers, and the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Program, which supports forensic nurse training throughout the country.

Background on the Debbie Smith Act:

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 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.