Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2014
|Full title||To reauthorize programs authorized under the Debbie Smith Act of 2004, and for other purposes.|
|Introduced in||113th United States Congress|
|Introduced on||March 27, 2014|
|Sponsored by||Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R, VA-6)|
|Number of co-sponsors||4|
|Effects and codifications|
|U.S.C. section(s) affected||42 U.S.C. § 14135, 42 U.S.C. § 14136, 42 U.S.C. § 14136a|
|Authorizations of appropriations||$967,500,000 over the course of fiscal years 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019|
The Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4323) is a bill that would amend the Debbie Smith Act of 2004 in order to reauthorize funding through Fiscal Year 2019 for the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program, sexual assault forensic exam program grants, and DNA training and education for law enforcement, correctional personnel, and court officers. The bill would authorize the appropriation of $968 million over the 2015-2019 period. The grant program would go to the states to run programs to analyze DNA samples from crime victims.
The Debbie Smith Act of 2004 (42 U.S.C. 13701) provides United States federal government grants to eligible states and units of local government to conduct DNA analyses of backlogged DNA samples collected from victims of crimes and criminal offenders. The Act expands the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and provides legal assistance to survivors of dating violence. Named after sexual assault survivor Debbie Smith, the Act was passed by the 108th Congress as part of larger legislation, the Justice for All Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-405), and signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 30, 2004.
The bill was reauthorized in 2008. At that time, there remained serious concerns about a backlog in the testing of rape kit DNA samples. Investigations conducted by CBS News and by Human Rights Watch revealed in 2009 that despite five years and millions in federal funding, rape kit backlogs persisted in the United States and had increased in several grant supported states and counties. According to a 2009 CBS News investigation, at least 20,000 untested rape kits were being held in four major U.S. cities and an additional twelve major cities had no idea how many rape kits remained untested in law enforcement storage facilities. An October 2008 audit of the Los Angeles city crime lab by Human Rights Watch revealed that rape kit backlogs increased between 2004 and 2008, despite nearly $4 million in Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Program grants. In January 2007, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) revealed that approximately 5,000 rape kits resided in LAPD storage facilities. By July 2008 the backlog grew to 7,300, but was later estimated at 5,193 by a February 2009 audit.
On March 3, 1989, a man wearing a ski mask entered Debbie Smith's Williamsburg, Virginia, home and threatened her with a gun, dragged her into the woods, blindfolded her and raped her repeatedly over the next hour. She participated in the collection of DNA evidence for a rape kit, but it was not formally tested and entered into a national database until 1994.
On July 24, 1995, a DNA technician identified Debbie's attacker, Norman Jimmerson, while analyzing various DNA records. Jimmerson, then serving time for abducting and robbing two women in 1989, was sentenced to 161 years in prison under the three strikes law.
Provisions of the bill
The Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2014 would amend the Debbie Smith Act of 2004 to reauthorize funding through FY2019 for: (1) the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program; (2) DNA training and education for law enforcement, correctional personnel, and court officers; and (3) sexual assault forensic exam program grants.
Congressional Budget Office report
This summary is based largely on the summary provided by the Congressional Budget Office, as ordered reported by the House Committee on the Judiciary on April 2, 2014. This is a public domain source.
H.R. 4323 would authorize the appropriation of $968 million over the 2015-2019 period for United States Department of Justice programs to enhance the analysis of DNA samples and other work relating to criminal investigations. Assuming appropriation of the specified amounts, we estimate that implementing H.R. 4323 would cost $644 million over the 2015-2019 period, with remaining amounts spent in subsequent years. Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
The Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2014 was introduced into the United States House of Representatives on March 27, 2014 by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R, VA-6). It was referred to the United States House Committee on the Judiciary. It was reported by the committee on April 7, 2014 alongside House Report 113-404. The House voted on April 7, 2014 to pass the bill in a voice vote.
Debate and discussion
Debbie Smith, who the law is named after, spoke in favor of the bill. She said that "these aren't rape kits that need to be tested, these are lives that need to be given back to their owners," arguing that the bill was very important to the victims of rape.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) also spoke in favor of the bill, arguing that "this is one of those rare bills that virtually guarantees that it will put real criminals behind bars and protect people more effectively against one of the most traumatic assaults imaginable."
Rep. Bob Goodlatte praised Debbie Smith's courage. He also said that he was "pleased that the House voted today to stand by these brave victims and ensure that DNA analysis is completed quickly so that law enforcement officials can accurately identify, prosecute, and lock these criminals in jail so that sexual predators are not left free to roam our streets and potentially hurt more women." He also urged the Senate to move quickly to pass the legislation.
- "H.R. 4323 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- "H.R. 4323 - CBO". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- Marcos, Cristina (7 April 2014). "House approves sale of missile frigates to Taiwan". The Hill. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2008, H.R. 5057, 110th Cong., 2nd Sess. 2008. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-5057
- Strickler, L. (2009). Rape Kits Data, By the Numbers: Exclusive CBS News Investigation Tracks the Status of Rape Kits in Over 16 States.CBS News http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/11/09/cbsnews_investigates/main5590842.shtml
- Human Rights Watch. (2009). "Testing Justice: The Rape Kit Backlog in Los Angeles City and County".https://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/03/31/testing-justice
- Keteyian, A., & Strickler,L. (2009, Nov. 9). Exclusive: Rape in America: Justice Denied."CBS News." http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/11/09/cbsnews_investigates/main5590118.shtml?tag=mncol;lst;1
- Human Rights Watch (2009, March 31). US: Los Angeles County Should Test Thousands of Rape Kits. https://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/03/31/us-los-angeles-county-should-test-thousands-rape-kits
- Telsavaara, T.V.T, & Arrigo, B.A. (2006). DNA Evidence in Rape Cases and the Debbie Smith Act: Forensic Practice and Criminal Justice Implications. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Criminal Justice Implications, 50, p. 487-505
- http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/publications/bulletins/dna_4_2001/dna11_4_01.html A First Step Toward Healing: Crime Victim Debbie Smith's Story in Case Studies: The Power of a DNA Match, April 2001, U.S. Department of Justice: Office for Victims of Crime
- Levy, Gabrielle (7 April 2014). "Debbie Smith urges reauthorization of rape kit law". United Press International. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- "H.R. 4323 - All Actions". United States Congress. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- "House Approves Bipartisan Bill to Protect Victims of Sexual Assault". Office of Congressman Bob Goodlatte. 7 April 2014. Archived from the original on 9 April 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Library of Congress - Thomas H.R. 4323
- beta.congress.gov H.R. 4323
- GovTrack.us H.R. 4323
- OpenCongress.org H.R. 4323
- WashingtonWatch.com H.R. 4323
- Congressional Budget Office report on H.R. 4323
- House Republican Conference's legislative digest on H.R. 4323
- House Report 113-404 on H.R. 4323