Victory
Petitioning U.S. House of Representatives and 2 others

End the Rape Kit Backlog. Support the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER) Act.

Urge the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and President Obama to pass the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER) Act of 2011.

What is the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER) Act of 2011?

The Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER) Act of 2011 (H.R.1523), sponsored by U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY 14) is a bill that will "amend the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 2000 to provide for Debbie Smith grants for auditing sexual assault evidence backlogs and to establish a Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry, and for other purposes."   In other words, the SAFER Act will help end the backlog of untested DNA evidence by providing crucial data on the number of unsolved rapes cases awaiting testing and establishing better standards for the tracking, storage and use of DNA evidence in sexual assault cases.

The Problem

In the United States, over 400,000 rape kits sit untested in refrigerators across the country.    As a result of rape kits going untested, any clues that the rape kits may hold to rapists' identities remain buried.  In other crime scene investigations, the DNA is processed within hours.  However, with a number of DNA rape kits, which contain DNA that could lead to the prosecution of an offender, sometimes go untouched for 10 years-exceeding the statue of limitations. 

What will the SAFER Act do?

The SAFER Act will;

- provide Debbie Smith grants to assist state and local law enforcement in auditing and cataloguing their backlogs, and will fund audits of unprocessed rape kits in cities and towns across the country. 

- mandate a national web-based registry of evidence collected from the rape kits, allowing survivors to easily track the status of their cases.   This registry will be online and accessible to the public, for the purpose of being awareness to the untested DNA evidence in thousands of rape cases, and allowing the rape victim track forensic evidence in their own case online at anytime.  Law enforcement will log up-to-date information on each rape case into SAFER, noting whether the DNA evidence has been analyzed or is awaiting testing. However, to protect the victim's privacy and confidentiality, neither the victim's name nor any other identifying information will be included.  Victims will receive a confidential code that allows them to check on the testing status of evidence from their own case.

- provide funding for local crime labs to hire and train new employees to deal specifically with rape kits. 

-require state attorney generals to report the best practices for use of the rape kit data. Under, the SAFER Act, data will be provided on the number of unsolved rape cases that are awaiting to be tested.

What can you do to get the SAFER Act passed?

Please write to and/or call your U.S. Representatives and Senators and President Obama tell them to pass the SAFER Act of 2011 (H.R.1523). Also ask your U.S. Representatives and Senators to co-sponsor the SAFER Act.

I was writing to you to urge you to pass the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER) Act of 2011 (H.R.1523) .

The Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER) Act of 2011 (H.R.1523), sponsored by U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY 14), is a bill that will "amend the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 2000 to provide for Debbie Smith grants for auditing sexual assault evidence backlogs and to establish a Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry, and for other purposes." In other words, the SAFER Act will help end the backlog of untested DNA evidence by providing crucial data on the number of unsolved rapes cases awaiting testing and establishing better standards for the tracking, storage and use of DNA evidence in sexual assault cases.

In the United States, over 400,000 rape kits sit untested in refrigerators across the country. As a result of rape kits going untested, any clues that the rape kits may hold to rapists' identities remain buried. In other crime scene investigations, the DNA is processed within hours. However, with a number of DNA rape kits, which contain DNA that could lead to the prosecution of an offender, sometimes go untouched for 10 years-exceeding the statue of limitations.

In spite of the passage of the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program, which provided $43 million to state crime labs in 2007 to review untested DNA and substantial funding for processing of DNA samples available from the Department of Justice under the Debbie Smith Act, the rape kit backlog processing persists across the country.

The SAFER Act will;

- provide Debbie Smith grants to assist state and local law enforcement in auditing and cataloguing their backlogs, and will fund audits of unprocessed rape kits in cities and towns across the country.

- mandate a national web-based registry of evidence collected from the rape kits, allowing survivors to easily track the status of their cases. This registry will be online and accessible to the public, for the purpose of being awareness to the untested DNA evidence in thousands of rape cases, and allowing the rape victim track forensic evidence in their own case online at anytime. Law enforcement will log up-to-date information on each rape case into SAFER, noting whether the DNA evidence has been analyzed or is awaiting testing. However, to protect the victim's privacy and confidentiality, neither the victim's name nor any other identifying information will be included. Victims will receive a confidential code that allows them to check on the testing status of evidence from their own case.

- provide funding for local crime labs to hire and train new employees to deal specifically with rape kits.

-require state attorney generals to report the best practices for use of the rape kit data. Under, the SAFER Act, data will be provided on the number of unsolved rape cases that are awaiting to be tested

According to Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of RAINN, "The SAFER Act is the vital next step in our efforts to eliminate the backlog of untested DNA evidence. This bill will help us shine a light on the remaining backlog, and give victims online access to updates on the status of their case. It will also let the public see the backlog in their area. Ultimately, it will lead to testing more DNA evidence and taking more rapists off our streets."

It is unacceptable that these kits have gone untested. By not processing rape kits, not only do rape victims not get the justice they need, but it allows for more rapists to go back on the streets and hurt other people. However, by passing the SAFER Act, will help change this.

I beg of you to please the SAFER Act and to make it into a law.

Therefore, I ask that the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate please vote yes when this bill comes before committee and the floor, and to co-sponsor this legislation. Finally, I ask that President Obama sign it into law.