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Federal funds for rape kit backlog extended

U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC)

Bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the Debbie Smith Act and give much-needed resources to state and local law enforcement agencies to complete forensic analysis of crime scenes and untested rape kits co-sponsored by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) was recently signed by President Trump.

The Debbie Smith Act was originally signed into law in 2004 to provide local and state crime laboratories resources to end the backlog of untested DNA evidence from unsolved crimes, analyze DNA samples, and increase the capacity to process DNA in order to guard against future backlogs.

Since it became law, more than 641,000 DNA cases have been processed. In addition to crime scene evidence, Debbie Smith funds are also utilized to process offender DNA samples to ensure evidence from unsolved crimes can be matched against a database of known offenders, similar to the criminal fingerprint databases.

The Debbie Smith Crime Victims Protection Act reauthorizes the Debbie Smith Act to continue the testing of DNA evidence, including rape kits, from unsolved crimes nationwide, DNA training and education for law enforcement, correctional personnel, and court officers, and the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Program, which supports forensic nurse training throughout the country.

“I am proud this bipartisan legislation is now signed into law so we can send critical resources to state and local communities and reduce the backlog of 15,000 untested rape kits in North Carolina,” said Tillis. “Victims of this heinous crime deserve justice and this legislation will help put the disgusting perpetrators behind bars.”