Poe and Cornyn Applaud House Passage of SAFER, Move to Fight Nationwide Rape Kit Backlog
by Ted Poe on December 27, 2017 at 4:45 PM
Last week Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and I released the following statements applauding the House’s passage of the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act.
Unfortunately, thousands of rape victims across the country are denied justice each day. For many, rape is a fate worse than death- a victim relives their trauma over and over again. In 2015, the DOJ estimated that there were as many of 4000,000 untested rape kits in the United States. This backlog forces a victim's hand, leaving them unable to produce evidence and pursue justice against their attacker. In 2013, Senator Cornyn and I acted to fix this, introducing SAFER to reduce the number of untested rape kits by allocating already existing funding and resources to states and localities to audit their rape kit backlog. I urge the President to quickly reauthorize SAFER and protect victims of crime, giving victims the justice they deserve.
The SAFER Act also ensures pediatric forensic nurses are eligible for training, which addresses the need for pediatric sexual assault nurse examiners in responding to children suffering from abuse.
“This bill is critical to ensuring law enforcement has the resources they need to finally get justice for victims who often have waited far too long,” said Sen. Cornyn. “I commend the House for taking action on this vital program before it expires, and I look forward to the President signing it into law.”
Congressman Poe and Senator Cornyn sponsored the Sexual Assault Forensic Reporting Act, 2013 legislation creating the SAFER program, which has helped law enforcement reduce the rape kit backlog through existing funds under the Debbie Smith Act. Now law, SAFER increased the money that would be spent on untested rape kits by 35 percent and mandated that 5-7 percent be used for SAFER program audits. It helps state and local law enforcement agencies address both the laboratory and storage backlogs by providing funding to conduct one-year audits of untested sexual assault evidence, which has uncovered tens of thousands of untested rape kits that sit on shelves and in labs across the nation.