September 22, 2014 — The Senate on Thursday approved by voice vote legislation (HR 4323) that would renew a program intended to help local governments reduce backlogs of unexamined DNA evidence in sexual assault cases, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports. The measure, which the House passed in April, now heads to President Obama.
The program awards federal grants to state and local law enforcement agencies to help them process untested evidence kits more quickly. The kits contain DNA and other evidence collected from women's bodies after they report a sexual assault.
The program was established through the Debbie Smith Act, which is named after a rape survivor whose 1989 case languished for years before the evidence was examined and the rapist was caught.
The measure reauthorizes the program, which was set to expire on Oct. 1, through 2019. Funding for the grants must be provided in a separate spending measure, according to the AP/Chronicle (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 9/18).