2:42 PM EST

Lamar S. Smith, R-TX 21st

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support House Resolution 716, which commends Gail Abarbanel for her dedication to advancing forensic sciences and reducing the DNA evidence backlog. Ms. Abarbanel is the founder of the Rape Treatment Center at the Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center, where she established the Fast Track Forensics Program.

I would like to thank a good friend and colleague, PATRICK KENNEDY, for his sponsorship of this bill, as well as for his longstanding dedication to people in need. His compassion for others will be remembered and missed after he leaves Congress later this year.

One of the most significant issues facing the criminal justice system today is the substantial backlog of unanalyzed DNA samples and biological evidence from crime scenes. This issue is particularly urgent in sexual assault and murder cases.

The Fast Track Forensics Program was developed by Gail Abarbanel to help crime laboratories speed up the processing of DNA evidence. This in turn gives local law enforcement agencies a headstart on bringing criminals to justice.

DNA evidence is important in cases where a suspect has been identified and proof is needed to link the suspect to a crime scene or victim. It is equally important in cases where there is no suspect. In a case without a suspect, DNA from the crime scene or the victim can be compared to offender profiles in DNA databases in an effort to identify and apprehend the perpetrator. DNA technology that improves the analysis process is increasingly vital to ensure accuracy and fairness in the criminal

justice system.

In 2008, Congress reauthorized the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program, which provides Federal grants to States to help fund initiatives such as the Fast Track Forensics Program. Programs designed to help alleviate DNA backlogs are imperative in ensuring that this forensic evidence is preserved, tested, and used in criminal cases to bring violent offenders to justice. Congress must continue its commitment to assisting backlog initiatives. This is especially true for rape and sexual assault


In the United States, a person is sexually assaulted every 2 1/2 minutes. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, the Nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization, one of every six American women will be the victim of an attempted or actual rape in her lifetime. With the use of DNA, our State and local law enforcement agencies and officials can bring these attackers to justice.

The development of programs such as the Fast Track Forensics Program is important to our criminal justice system. I urge my colleagues to support this resolution.

I yield back the balance my time.

2:44 PM EST

John Conyers Jr., D-MI 14th

Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I want to congratulate the author of this resolution, Mr. PATRICK KENNEDY, and also his original cosponsors, Mrs. McMorris Rodgers, Mr. Waxman, Mr. Schiff, Mr. Sherman, Ms. Matsui, Mr. Berman, Mr. Wexler and Ms. ROSA DELAURO. I think this is an excellent resolution. I thank the ranking member for his remarks.