The US House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology Act (HR 3214), authorizing over $1 billion to facilitating the testing and processing of DNA kits in criminal cases. Sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), HR 3214 designates $755 million over five years to the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program, focused on eliminating the current backlog of 300,000 DNA rape kits nationwide. In addition, the measure supports Sen. Joseph Biden’s (D-DE) DNA Sexual Assault Justice Act (S. 152), providing grant monies for training and education of law enforcement, medical, and judicial professionals involved in using DNA data for sexual assault cases. Finally, the package also extends upon the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), offering legal assistances for dating violence victims and grant funding for coalitions servicing violence victims.
Under provisions of this bill, death row inmates would be permitted to call on DNA testing to prove their innocence. Rep. Sensenbrenner was pleased with the measure’s passage through the House, “Many crimes could be solved, many guilty people taken off the streets, and many victims could be spared from further crimes,” the AP reported.