U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) released the following statement after President Trump signed his Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act into law. The SAFER Act reauthorizes, strengthens, and extends the Sexual Assault Forensic Reporting program to help fight the nationwide rape kit backlog.
“Victims of sexual assault shouldn’t have to live in fear while evidence that could bring their attackers to justice goes untested,” said Sen. Cornyn. “This law will assist in the efforts of our state and local law enforcement agencies to reduce the backlog of untested rape kits so survivors can get the justice and closure they deserve.”
The SAFER Act was introduced by Senators Cornyn, Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Michael Bennet (D-CO). Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Rob Portman (R-OH), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Kennedy (R-LA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) were cosponsors of the legislation. The SAFER Act also ensures pediatric forensic nurses are eligible for training, which addresses the need for pediatric sexual assault nurse examiners in responding to children suffering from abuse.
Sens. Cornyn and Bennet were the authors of the Sexual Assault Forensic Reporting Act, a 2013 law creating the SAFER Program which has helped law enforcement reduce the rape kit backlog through existing funds under the Debbie Smith Act. The legislation increased the amount of these funds spent on untested kits by 35 percent and allowed 5-7 percent to be used on SAFER program audits. It helps state and local law enforcement agencies address both the laboratory and storage backlogs by providing funding to conduct one-year audits of untested sexual assault evidence, which has uncovered tens of thousands of untested rape kits on shelves and in labs across the nation.
Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.