Strengthening Debbie Smith Act Essential
for Victims of Sexual Assault
WASHINGTON, DC – Today the U.S. House of Representatives is voting to reauthorize the Debbie Smith Act, a vital program first enacted in 2004 to help states and localities end the backlog of untested DNA evidence, specifically sexual assault kits. Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee issued the following statement in response:
“Sexual assault is a horrific offense that turns a victim’s body into a crime scene. No woman who bravely agrees to undergo the hours-long process for obtaining a sexual assault kit should have that evidence go to waste.
“After 15 years of the Debbie Smith Act and nearly $1 billion spent, most states still don’t know how many rape kits remain untested. We must do better. Victims of sexual assault deserve to know that every kit is accounted for and every last one is processed, because every rape kit represents a brave woman waiting for justice.
“During my testimony last summer before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Debbie Smith Act, I advocated for greater priority for testing rape kits and greater accountability to end the backlog. The first priority for these funds should be for the victims of sexual assault who have been waiting for justice, often while enduring significant physical and psychological trauma. Let’s not forget that they are up against the clock due to statutes of limitations in some states.
Concerned Women for America applauds the Senate for passing these important improvements to the Debbie Smith Act. Today the House is taking the next step. We owe it to victims to get this right, and we call on Congress to get the job done.”