In-Depth: Congressman John Carter (R-TX) introduced this bill to make more grant funding available to police departments and prosecutors as they process the backlog of DNA evidence:
“Since 2004, Congress has appropriated $1.5 billion to help reduce the backlog of DNA rape kits. This bill paves the way for state prosecutors to bring these criminals to justice. The Debbie Smith Act provides crucial funding to reduce the DNA rape kit backlog but does not address the shifting backlog created in the prosecution pipeline. Prosecutors do not have the funds to reopen every case, even when DNA analysis has identified a suspect. The Justice Served Act will provide prosecutors with the resources and funds to reopen, investigate, and close cold cases.”
This bill has the support of 11 bipartisan cosponsors including six Republicans and six Democrats and has support from the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) and Debbie Smith.
Of Note: Rape kit testing impact is immense from a numbers perspective. In Detroit, testing 11,000 untested rape kits revealed 817 serial rapists; extrapolating out on a nationwide level, there are likely close to 29,000 repeat rapists whose identities are in rape kit evidence across the country. The victim impact is staggering: of the 817 serial rapists found in Detroit, over 50 had 10-15 victims apiece, working out to over 500 victims. In California, which has a DNA database of over 200,000 people (the largest of any state), the cold case closure rate is one per day.
Evidence testing is not cheap: rape kits cost $490 to process, traditional DNA tests cost $500 per sample, rapid DNA tests cost $235-350 per sample, and some other evidence types (such as DNA from semen, blood, bone, tooth, etc) can cost of $1,000 per sample. Additionally, the cost of testing alone is often not the only cost associated with clearing crimes via DNA evidence. Private labs charge fees for depositions, expert witness testimony, case file review, consultations, sample collection, and other necessary inputs for building cases. Public agencies, such as local police departments, also incur significant costs to clear cold cases, mostly in the form of significant manhours.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: YinYang / iStock)