WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) released the following statements after the U.S. House of Representatives passed their bipartisan Justice Served Act of 2018, which would provide funding to address the rape kit backlog and bring justice to victims of heinous crimes like sexual assault by resolving cold cases and exonerating those wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit.
“As a former prosecutor, I know that behind every unprocessed cold case is a victim seeking justice and scientific advancements have made DNA testing an incredibly useful tool in that fight,” Klobuchar said. “By giving prosecutors the support they need to address DNA backlogs, this bipartisan legislation will ensure that criminals are put behind bars, cold cases are put to rest and justice can finally be served. The House took an important step forward this week and I hope the Senate will follow soon.”
“We must ensure our law enforcement officers are equipped with the right tools to help end the rape kit backlog and bring justice to survivors,” Cornyn said. “This legislation will allow prosecutors to use innovations in DNA testing to prosecute criminals and help provide victims and families who have waited years in agony some answers.”
The Justice Served Act of 2018 would provide funds for the prosecution of crimes cleared through DNA. This legislation brings results to the courthouse and resolves these cases by:
- Authorizing five to seven percent of funds under the Debbie Smith Act to be used to prosecute cold cases;
- Enhancing prosecutors’ capacity to follow through on what Congress has started with the funding of programs to solve these cases through advances in DNA forensic analysis;
- Bringing justice to the victims of crime and their families by giving prosecutors the tools they need to investigate, solve, and close cold cases;
- Giving families closure after sometimes waiting decades for their loved ones’ murderers to be identified through new DNA analysis of old crime scene evidence; and
- Helping exonerate those who have been wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit with new DNA testing results.
Klobuchar is a national leader in the fight to prevent domestic violence. In January, Klobuchar and Cornyn’s bipartisan Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act with Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) was signed into law. The SAFER Act reauthorizes, strengthens, and extends the Sexual Assault Forensic Registry program in an effort to help reduce the national rape kit backlog. The Klobuchar-backed bipartisan Justice for All Reauthorization Act was signed into law in 2016. The law strengthens the rights of crime victims by providing the protection they need to restore their lives and enhances law enforcement’s ability to proactively stop violent criminals. The Justice for All Reauthorization Act also aims to reduce the rape kit backlog by supporting grant programs that fund forensic testing. Klobuchar has also championed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and led efforts to pass bipartisan legislation supporting survivors of sexual assault in the military.