The Senate last week unanimously approved the DNA Sexual Assault Justice Act of 2002 (S 2313), a bill aimed at reducing the growing nationwide backlog of DNA evidence for sexual assault cases. Passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in August, the bill requires local law enforcement agencies to assess their DNA backlog and provides $335 million over the next five years to facilitate efficient processing of DNA rape kits. Introduced by Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), the act also boosts federal grants to expand DNA testing, establishes grant programs for evidence collection and handling training, and stipulates upgrades for the FBI’s DNA computer system. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the bill’s co-sponsor, praised the Senate’s action: “This legislation will help bring justice to women for whom justice is long overdue.”
The Act includes provisions from a companion bill, the Debbie Smith Act, which requires that health officials test rape victim DNA samples within 10 days of receipt, introduced in the House and Senate by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Cantwell in May.
Prompt testing is particularly critical since the perpetrators are able to roam free in the meantime — which not only adds anxiety to the victim, but also leaves all women at risk, given that the average rapist commits eight to 12 sexual assaults. Adding considerable legal punch, the Act authorizes John Doe/DNA indictments whereby DNA evidence may extend the five-year statute of limitations on a federal sexual offense and also includes privacy requirements for handling DNA evidence.
The legislation was referred to the House Judiciary Committee on Friday.
10/9/2015 Federal Judge Orders Anti-Abortion Group to Cede Footage to NAF - On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) and its leader David Daleidan must turn over all previously unreleased "sting" videos and outtakes of National Abortion Federation (NAF) meetings the group obtained surreptitiously as part of a smear campaign against the abortion provider.
U.S. . . .
10/9/2015 Women Scientists Receive Less Funding Than Their Male Peers, Study Finds - According to a new study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, male scientists receive twice as much financial support to kickstart their careers in science and medicine as their female counterparts, an early career inequity that could limit professional opportunities for women scientists throughout their working lives.
Conducted by Health Resources in Action (HRiA), analysts studied 219 biomedical researchers who had applied for early-career grant funding at 55 New England hospitals, universities and research facilities between 2012 and 2014. . . .
10/7/2015 Study Finds US Gender Wage Gap Persists - Data compiled by the US Census Bureau this week once again demonstrates a gender wage gap, showing that American women who work full-time, year-round jobs on average earn 79 cents for every dollar paid to men. . . .