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house Bill H.R. 4854

Should DOJ Grants be Available to Process the DNA Evidence Backlog Faster?

Argument in favor

DNA testing to clear evidence backlogs is an important effort to ensure cases are closed, justice is served, and victims and their families receive closure. This bill would help police departments process the backlog of DNA evidence and solve cases that were impossible to close otherwise.

OlderNWiser's Opinion
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05/14/2018
Of course, especially when DNA so often proves the innocence of those who have been imprisoned for many years. Generally most processes cost money so approving funds to address the backlog is an excellent idea, if measured or there is some other guarantee of real accountability.
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Abbi's Opinion
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05/14/2018
I'd rather our tax dollars go to this than bombing innocents in Yemen, Syria, and any other country our government decides to bully. 1,100 tested rape kits reveled over 800 serial rapists?! Holy shit! Fuck these bogus wars! Let's hit our real enemies!! Fuck Sessions' war on drugs he needs to fill our prisons with serial rapists! Fuck his war on families! Get the serials! If the DOJ refuses to fund crime stopping programs that protect innocents from being railroaded in to jail than are they really the department of justice? If they test the backlogged DNA evidence they will clear so many innocents behind bars!!
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Ronda 's Opinion
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05/14/2018
This is important evidence that is unusable because of the backlog. Yes, grants to clear the backlog and then an increase in funding so that it doesn’t get backed up again.
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Argument opposed

Testing DNA evidence is relatively expensive and while grant funding may help there will still be a significant cost burden on local police departments to process the evidence and build cases against suspects identified by the evidence.

Erin's Opinion
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05/14/2018
Typically I would say yes to this in a heart beat, but. What about access for the defense? For that reason alone, no. If that codicil is added, then my vote would be changed to a yes.
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Charmaine's Opinion
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05/14/2018
Grants have to be applied for. This should be taken care of without competition.
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Tim's Opinion
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05/22/2018
Eventually the cost will go down and cheaper. Right now run away train.
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bill Progress


  • EnactedOctober 9th, 2018
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The senate Passed September 26th, 2018
    Passed by Voice Vote
  • The house Passed May 15th, 2018
    Roll Call Vote 377 Yea / 1 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedJanuary 19th, 2018

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What is House Bill H.R. 4854?

This bill would allow funds from the Dept. of Justice’s (DOJ) Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program to be used for increasing the capacity of prosecutors to address the backlog of violent crime cases involving suspects identified through DNA evidence. It would require the DOJ to allocate a specified percentage of grant funds for DNA backlog clearance efforts.

Additionally, out of budgets for FY2019-2022 allocated to DNA analysis, capacity enhancement programs, and other forensic activities, the DOJ would have to allocate at least 5% for grants to prosecute violent crimes where suspects have been identified through DNA evidence.

Impact

Victims of crime; local police; local prosecutors; and the Department of Justice.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4854

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

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 NoteRape 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 samplerapid 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.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: YinYang / iStock)

AKA

Justice Served Act of 2018

Official Title

To amend the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 2000 to provide additional resources to State and local prosecutors, and for other purposes.

    Of course, especially when DNA so often proves the innocence of those who have been imprisoned for many years. Generally most processes cost money so approving funds to address the backlog is an excellent idea, if measured or there is some other guarantee of real accountability.
    Like (87)
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    Typically I would say yes to this in a heart beat, but. What about access for the defense? For that reason alone, no. If that codicil is added, then my vote would be changed to a yes.
    Like (21)
    Follow
    Share
    I'd rather our tax dollars go to this than bombing innocents in Yemen, Syria, and any other country our government decides to bully. 1,100 tested rape kits reveled over 800 serial rapists?! Holy shit! Fuck these bogus wars! Let's hit our real enemies!! Fuck Sessions' war on drugs he needs to fill our prisons with serial rapists! Fuck his war on families! Get the serials! If the DOJ refuses to fund crime stopping programs that protect innocents from being railroaded in to jail than are they really the department of justice? If they test the backlogged DNA evidence they will clear so many innocents behind bars!!
    Like (39)
    Follow
    Share
    This is important evidence that is unusable because of the backlog. Yes, grants to clear the backlog and then an increase in funding so that it doesn’t get backed up again.
    Like (31)
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    Considering both that the backlog disproportionately relates to crimes against women as well as the fact that innocent people may be incarcerated, I’d say it’s about time.
    Like (23)
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    DNA evidence is a important tool in the arsenal of prosecuting rapists. I support using DNA and processing the backlog swiftly. If we have the evidence, we are obligated to use it.
    Like (22)
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    By all means YES.... WHY THE Heck not???
    Like (17)
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    Grants have to be applied for. This should be taken care of without competition.
    Like (12)
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    This back log of DNA testing not only hampers prosecution of rapists but also keeps victims waiting for justice.
    Like (11)
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    As an assault victim, I would support this bill wholeheartedly as there are too many rape kits that go unprocessed.
    Like (7)
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    Why wouldn’t you want to get DNA evidence processed faster? This seems a no-brainer. Prosecute the Guilty. Free the Innocent. Keep the Wheels Of Justice rolling along. From all I’ve read about this Bill, I see no reason to hold up passage.
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    Free, Gary Thibodeau. Victim of Oswego County New York War on Justice.
    Like (3)
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    I believe if we allowed this grant more cases could be solved and more people have a chance at justice. Why should we not allow people to feel safe where they live?
    Like (3)
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    Of course yes.
    Like (2)
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    This technology is in helping to secure evidence of a crimes and should be be available to law enforcers a soon as possible
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    Yes!!! No further discussiin needed
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    There should be no backlog. Why are we not getting these done?
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    Good of a time as any to go after violent offenders,,, meaning murders, rapists, hard drug dealers and such.
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    Get er done!
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    Best way to cut down backlog is to consider dismissal where APPROPRIATE also dedicate fund to clearing DNA KITS
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