A plan by U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) to help reduce the national rape kit backlog was included in the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization that passed Congress yesterday and will be signed by President Obama. The Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting bill, Cornyn says, will audit and reduce the backlog of untested rape kits held by law enforcement agencies across the U.S., which experts have estimated as high as 400,000.
Endorsed by national victims' rights groups, the measure will provide funding for state and local governments to conduct audits of untested DNA evidence and create a national reporting system to help track and prioritize untested rape kits, Cornyn says. The bill amends current law to require that at least 75 percent of federal funds under a law called the Debbie Smith act be spent on analyzing untested DNA evidence or increasing the capacity of labs.