Archive for September, 2012
The Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER) Act received unanimous support and passed out of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee last week. The bipartisan bill would provide state and local governments with funding to conduct one-year audits of the untested sexual assault evidence in their possession and create a national registry to help track those audits. The SAFER Act would also amend current law to require that a greater percentage of Debbi Smith Act grant money is spent directly on analyzing untested DNA evidence.
After the bill passed out of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) said:
“Victims of sexual assault have already gone through enough. They shouldn’t have to wait unnecessarily for justice. Today’s passage of the SAFER Act in the Judiciary Committee brings us closer to helping local law enforcement reduce backlogs of rape kits and bring criminals to justice. This bill will support those efforts and enable these agencies to stay on top of their work.”
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) added:
“Today we took a large step toward ensuring justice for victims of sexual assault. I’m encouraged by the bipartisan support the SAFER Act received in the Judiciary Committee and look forward to a vote on the Senate floor.”
As officials in Detroit, Michigan are beginning to test rape kits that have been sitting in police and crime lab storage facilities—some for decades—DNA evidence has already linked to multiple possible perpetrators. The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office has identified 21 potential serial rapists from the first 153 kits that the crime lab tested and entered into CODIS, the national DNA database, according to news reports.
These kits are part of an initial wave of 200 kits that have been sent for testing under the National Institute of Justice’s grant to address Detroit’s backlog of over 11,000 untested rape kits. The DNA evidence in these 21 cases matched to the DNA profiles of suspected offenders involved in at least one other rape case, according to ClickOn Detroit. In some cases, the evidence matched to the DNA in up to five other cases, according to the article.
Testing a rape kit can identify a potential assailant, confirm a suspect’s contact with a victim, corroborate the victim’s account of the sexual assault and exonerate innocent defendants. And of course, testing rape kits can connect suspects to other crimes.
In addition to identifying the possible serial rapists, the DNA evidence in the batch of 153 kits has yielded More >