Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today gave the following statement on the House floor in support of the Justice Served Act of 2018 (H.R.4854). This legislation provides funding for grants to ensure that state and local law enforcement has the capacity to prosecute sexual assault crimes.
Chairman Goodlatte: Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R.4854, the Justice Served Act of 2018, introduced by the gentleman from Texas, Judge Carter.
All of us in this body are familiar with Debbie Smith and the tragedy of her attack and the triumph of the law that bears her name. Many of us have had the pleasure of meeting Debbie and her husband Rob, and hearing her story first hand. The Debbie Smith Act was the nation’s first piece of legislation aimed at ending the DNA backlog that plagued our state crime labs. The Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program was created in 2004, and since then, it has enabled states to process more than 725,000 cases and upload more than 327,000 DNA profiles into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). I had the honor to be the chief sponsor of the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2014.
When Judge Carter reached out to me about this bill, I was encouraged but I also wanted to know how Debbie Smith felt about it. I learned that not only did she support it, she and others helped craft it. When we reached out to Debbie and Rob to get their thoughts on the bill, they stated “getting hits doesn’t mean as much if we cannot prosecute.” I agree with Debbie and Judge Carter on this very important point.
The bill in front of us today makes a very small but important change to the Debbie Smith Act. That small change will increase the capacity of prosecutors to address the backlog of violent crime cases involving suspects identified through DNA evidence. This bill will allow victims of crime and their families to receive justice by giving prosecutors the tools they need to investigate, solve, and close cold cases.
That small but vitally important change is why the Justice Served Act of 2018 is endorsed by the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), Debbie Smith, Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA), Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA), the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), National Association of Police Organizations, Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations, Joyful Heart Association, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, the Major Cities Chiefs, and the National Criminal Justice Association.
We, in this body, should join these organizations in supporting this very important piece of legislation. I want to thank my friend, the gentleman from Texas, Judge Carter, for introducing this legislation and all of his hard work supporting it. To paraphrase Debbie and Rob, getting a hit is nice, but ensuring justice is served is better. Please join me in supporting the Justice Served Act of 2018.
I reserve the balance of my time.