Entitled the Survivors Bill of Rights Act, that earlier legislation cleared
the Senate Judiciary Committee in June 2016,
during my tenure as its chairman. The House of Representatives introduced a
similar package of rights some months later and that version was enacted in the
fall of 2016, with my strong support.
The 2016 statute provides very important
rights for victims of sexual violence, but only in federal cases. Such rights
include, for example, the right to know the results of your forensic exam, the
right to have evidence preserved for a certain period, and the right to notice
before your forensic kit is destroyed.
A young sexual assault survivor, Amanda
Nguyen, who advocated for these rights at the federal level, now is leading the
effort to persuade other jurisdictions to adopt the same rights for all sexual
assault victims. One of those jurisdictions is my home state of Iowa, which
this summer adopted a package of rights that’s closely modeled on the federal
Survivors Bill of Rights.
I want to take the opportunity to again
thank Amanda, who arrived in my office six years ago and convinced me of the
importance of working with her on this important initiative. Amanda also later
testified before the Judiciary Committee on two occasions, at my invitation,
about the importance of protecting the rights of victims of sexual violence in
the criminal justice system.
Amanda worked with Senator Shaheen on this
same legislation as well, and I am pleased to partner with Senator Shaheen
again in introducing today’s measure. The bill we have sponsored gives
each state a financial incentive to adopt new rights for survivors in all sex
crime cases, modeled on the same rights that victims in federal cases now enjoy.
Each state that extends these same rights
to survivors of sexual violence would be eligible to receive a federal grant,
under the legislation that we’ve introduced today. The amount of each state
grant would be calculated based on the formula that is used to calculate STOP
grant funding to states under a program that’s authorized by the Violence Against Women Act.
Finally, the measure we have introduced
today would authorize $20 million annually for each of the next five fiscal
years to support the implementation of the new grant program established by our
I again thank Senator Shaheen for joining
me in leading this legislation and for her commitment to working to increase
protections for victims of sexual violence. I also want to thank the National
Alliance to End Sexual Violence for working with me on the bill’s development.
Finally, I thank Congresswomen Jackie
Speier and Kelly Armstrong for initiating this measure in the other chamber
today. I urge my colleagues to join us in cosponsoring this bipartisan,