Cornyn, Leahy Bill to Help Reduce Rape Kit Backlog, Strengthen Crime Victim Rights Passes Senate


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UNITED STATES SENATE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 16, 2016
CONTACT:
Drew Brandewie (Cornyn), (202) 224-0704
Jessica Brady (Leahy), (202) 224-7703

Cornyn, Leahy Bill to Help Reduce Rape Kit Backlog, Strengthen Crime Victim Rights Passes Senate

 

WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Justice for All Reauthorization Act, a bill introduced by U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to strengthen crime victims’ rights. The bipartisan legislation builds on the 2004 Justice for All Act to improve victims’ rights by increasing access to restitution, reauthorizing programs that support crime victims in court, and increasing resources for forensic labs to reduce the rape kit backlog. It also includes the Innocence Protection Act, which improves access to post-conviction DNA testing.

“The Justice for All Act has empowered victims and strengthened the ability of law enforcement to protect the innocent. Our legislation builds upon this success, providing victims with the support they need to restore their lives and law enforcement with the resources to keep violent offenders off the street,” Sen. Cornyn said. “I commend my colleagues, particularly Sen. Leahy, for their work on this important bill, and look forward to getting this bill on the President’s desk.”

“I have great faith in our criminal justice system and in the men and women who have dedicated their lives to making it work,” Sen. Leahy said. “But we also know that our justice system is imperfect and sometimes gets it wrong. It is an outrage when an innocent person is wrongly punished, and this injustice is compounded when the true perpetrator remains on the streets, able to commit more crimes. The Justice for All Reauthorization Act provides tools to strengthen indigent defense, expand the rights of crime victims, improve the use of forensic evidence, and protect the innocent by increasing access to post-conviction DNA testing. Passage of this bipartisan bill is long overdue, but it is an important step that we celebrate today.”

The Justice for all Reauthorization Act of 2016 strengthens crime victims’ rights and programs by increasing access to restitution, and reauthorizes programs used to notify crime victims that they have the right to legal assistance and to be heard in court. The bill aims to help reduce the rape kit backlog and provides resources for forensic labs while improving access to post-conviction DNA testing. The bill also would improve the administration of criminal justice programs by increasing accountability for federal funds and requiring the Justice Department to assist state and local governments to improve their indigent defense systems. Additionally, it reinforces provisions of the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) are original cosponsors of the bill.