U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Applauds Obama Administration Action to Help Reduce Wisconsin’s Rape Kit Backlog
Wisconsin’s Department of Justice to Receive $3.5 Million Investment After Baldwin Calls on U.S. Attorney General to Take “Immediate Steps” to Address Backlog
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Baldwin released the following statement after Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch today announced $41 million in grant awards to 20 jurisdictions to eliminate or reduce the number of untested sexual assault kits across the country, including $1.5 million for the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
Today’s announcement is part of an unprecedented partnership with the New York County District Attorney’s Office (DANY) – whose own grant program is contributing $38 million to the cause, including an additional $2 million for the Wisconsin Department of Justice, bringing the total investment to approximately $3.5 million for the State of Wisconsin.
Yesterday, Senator Baldwin sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Lynch calling for the Department of Justice to take “immediate steps” after a recent USA Today investigation revealed at least 70,000 sexual assault kits remain untested nationwide, including more than 6,000 in Wisconsin.
“Today’s announcement from the Department of Justice and the New York County District Attorney's Office is a major step toward helping victims of sexual assault in Wisconsin and across the country access the swift and thorough justice they deserve,” said Senator Baldwin. “The current backlog in Wisconsin and across the country leaves victims and their families without closure and potentially puts other members of our communities at risk of sexual violence, but I am hopeful this federal investment will provide local law enforcement with resources and technical assistance that can help them eliminate the backlog as quickly as possible.”
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Baldwin supported the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which included strong funding for the Debbie Smith Act and directed the Department of Justice to use the vast majority of this funding specifically to reduce the backlog in testing sexual assault kits. In 2004, Congress passed the Debbie Smith Act authorizing federal grants to assist local law enforcement in the testing of backlogged DNA samples, and has twice reauthorized this law with overwhelming, bipartisan support.
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