WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) applauded the enactment of the “Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2014” (H.R. 4323), which President Obama signed into law yesterday. This law authorizes funding of nearly $194 million for each of Fiscal Years 2015-2019 for the Department of Justice to administer various grants, including the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program, to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in solving rape and other violent crimes.
The improved awareness that DNA evidence can aid in solving cases has resulted in law enforcement authorities collecting DNA samples in a wider range of cases and has increased demand for this testing, leading to backlogs of unanalyzed samples of DNA connected to crimes. This law will provide for the continuation of programs which have been instrumental in addressing this backlog.
This Act is named in honor Debbie Smith, the survivor of a brutal rape who had to wait six years for her perpetrator to be identified and convicted due to delay in testing the DNA sample collected following her attack. On April 7, 2014, prior to consideration of this bill by the House of Representatives, Congressman Conyers joined Debbie Smith and other Members of Congress in calling for reauthorization of this law, noting the success of the existing programs whose authorizations were expiring and the need to continue and expand them.
Upon enactment of the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2014, Congressman Conyers stated,
John Conyers, Jr.
“I am pleased that we have been able to enact the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act so that state and local law enforcement can enhance their efforts to reduce and hopefully eliminate the national DNA evidence backlog, and bring to justice the perpetrators of rape and other violent crimes. I am particularly hopeful that this law will lead to the reduction of the backlog of unanalyzed rape kits in Detroit, a problem that our local officials have been working to address.”