2005-02-11 / Community

Weiner: ‘Bush Endorses My DNA Bill’

It is unusual for Congressman Anthony Weiner to agree with President George W. Bush. On the question of DNA testing, however, both seem to be on the same page and Weiner is proud of it.

“On Wednesday night of last week, in his State of the Union address, President Bush said ‘we are dramatically expanding the use of DNA evidence to prevent wrongful conviction.’ That was a reference to language crafted by my office in the Debbie Smith Act , which was passed by Congress in November,” Weiner says in a recent press release.

“DNA evidence breathes new life into cold cases, solving hundreds in New York City alone, and can be a life saver for the wrongly accused,” said Weiner. “Republicans in Congress should take their cues from the President, and get behind comprehensive DNA legislation that will finally reduce the 500,000 plus nationwide rape kit backlog, build more crime labs, train more forensic nurses, and fund innocence protection.”

In 1999, Weiner wrote the first legislation to fund the testing of rape kits and crime scene DNA. Last year, he teamed up with a bipartisan, bicameral coalition of legislators, including Senators Biden and Hatch, and Reps. Green, Sensenbrenner, Delahunt, LaHood, Nadler, and Maloney as well as with civil rights activists to craft legislation—the Debbie Smith Act —to both bring dangerous predators to justice, and protect the rights of the wrongly accused. 

Under a provision of the bill authored by Weiner, cities and states will receive $755 million over the next five years to test DNA crime scene and convicted offender samples. The omnibus appropriation bill which passed Congress contains the first installment of those funds.

New York City has completed a 3 year program to eliminate its rape kit backlog. But according to a Department of Justice study commissioned by Weiner there are up to 542,000 still untested DNA evidence collection kits across the U.S.

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