Lawmakers and activists joined together in Manhattan on Saturday to call on Congress to renew legislation meant to help victims of rape and sexual assault.
They gathered on the steps of City Hall to ask Congress to increase funding for the Debbie Smith Act, a provision of the Justice for All Act, which provides millions of dollars for local and state authorities to process DNA evidence from rape kits. The provision is set to expire at the end of the month.
Joined by a survivor who waited 15 years for her rapist to be caught, Rep. Carolyn Maloney says any delay in processing DNA evidence is unacceptable.
"It's unconscionable to me that there is so many kits out there that haven't been processed and report after report after report shows that when they process them, they get convictions,” Maloney, who represents parts of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn, said.
"Each kit represents a human being whose body was a crime scene. Each kit represents a potential rapist, a criminal that can be put behind bars, a criminal that may be walking the streets,” said Natasha Alexenko, founder of Natasha’s Justice Project.
Maloney says there's a national backlog of 400,000 unsolved cases.