Today, Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Congresspeople Ted Poe (TX-02) and Carolyn Maloney (D-14) will hold a press conference to discuss the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER) Act of 2012. The bipartisan no-cost bill targets rape kit backlogs, helping law enforcement log up-to-date information on each rape case into the registry.
"Rape kits are sitting on shelves in precincts across the country while rapists walk free," Rep. Ted Poe said. "We know there is a problem with rape kit backlogs, we just don't know the extent of this problem. The SAFER Act gives localities the ability to audit their backlog and bring transparency and accountability to the testing process through the creation of a national online rape kit registry. It will inform victims, law enforcement and the public about the extent of the backlog throughout the country. It is my hope that the SAFER Act will bring to light the necessity of testing rape kits as quickly as possible in order to bring swift justice to violent criminals. Victims of violent crime should not be left in the dark about the status of their case and have to live in fear while the perpetrators go about their everyday lives."
Currently, an estimated 400,000 rape kits sit untested in labs and on police storage shelves across the nation.
The SAFER Act of 2012 would provide state and local governments with the funds to audit untested sexual assault evidence, create a national registry to help track these audits, and amend current law to require that at least 75% of Debbie Smith Act — the act which provides federal grants to states to conduct analyses of backlogged DNA samples — funds be spent directly on either analyzing untested DNA evidence or increasing the capacity of labs.
According to RAINN, Rep. Poe and Rep. Maloney will be introducing the SAFER Act of 2012 (H.R. 1523) in the House tomorrow. Senator Cornyn and Senator Bennet introduced the Senate companion bill (S. 3250) in May.