On Monday, September 29, 2014, the president signed into law the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2014, authorizing appropriations to the Department of Justice for each of Fiscal Years 2015-2019 in the amount of $151 million for the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program; $12.5 million for DNA training and education programs; and $30 million for the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Grant Program.
The original “Debbie Smith Act” was drafted after rape survivor Debbie Smith testified before the House Government Reform Committee in June 2001 about using DNA evidence to solve rape cases. Debbie was raped near her home in 1989, and for six and a half years she lived in fear that her attacker would return to kill her. Debbie was finally able to live without fear when she learned that her rapist had been identified because of DNA evidence and was already in prison.
Signed into law in 2004, The Debbie Smith Act ensured that DNA evidence could be used to convict the guilty and free the innocent. Since then, millions of dollars of federal funding have been appropriated under the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program to process the thousands of unprocessed DNA evidence kits – including rape kits – across the country. When signed into law, the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2008 provided $151 million annually and extended the program through FY 2014.
In 2013, language Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney authored to require that 75 percent of Debbie Smith Act funds be used to process the backlog of untested rape kits, was included in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that was signed into law. The law also provides grants to conduct audits of unprocessed kits so that the backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits sitting in labs across the country can be tracked.
The LSV2 Leeds Spectral Vision System, an alternate light source imaging tool offering extended reach and rotation capabilities, is actively being used in forensic laboratories to help identify bodily fluids on crime scene evidence. Learn more about this system’s capabilities by contacting Leeds or calling 1-800-444-5333.