Washington – Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today praised the Senate’s passage of the “Justice for All Act of 2004,” to provide funding and assistance to the criminal justice system in order to realize the full potential of DNA technology to solve crimes and protect the innocent.

“After days, months and now years of hard-fought negotiations we finally reached an agreement. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation is one of the most significant bills that will come out of the 108th Congress,” said Hatch.

“This bill represents a compromise which was reached through extensive negotiations among Senators on the Judiciary Committee and members of the House Committee on the Judiciary,” Hatch said. “We have done justice today and set an example of what the legislative process can accomplish. I commend my colleague from Vermont, Senator Leahy, as well as Chairman Sensenbrenner and Congressman Delahunt, for their unrelenting commitment to finalising this monumental legislation.”

“This is a groundbreaking crime bill that will allow us to unleash the evidentiary power of DNA,” continued Hatch. “It will provide law enforcement with the ability to find and punish the guilty, yet give us the comfort of more certainty in criminal prosecutions.”

“DNA technology has the power to protect the innocent and convict the guilty and will move our criminal justice system into a new era of increased fairness and efficiency,” said Hatch.

Provisions of the “Justice for All Act of 2004” include:

  • President’s Bush’s DNA Initiative, which was announced on March 11, 2003, and provides $755 million for the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program to eliminate the current backlog of over 400,000 rape kits (and other crime scene evidence) awaiting DNA analysis in the nation’s crime labs.
  • Senators DeWine’s and Biden’s Rape Kits and DNA Evidence Backlog Elimination Act and DNA Sexual Assault Justice Act, which authorize over $500 million for additional grant programs to: (1) improve the capacity of federal, state and local crime labs to conduct DNA analyses; (2) reduce other forensic science backlogs; (3) train criminal justice personnel in the use of DNA evidence; (4) support sexual assault forensic examiner programs; and (5) promote the use of DNA technology to identify missing persons.
  • Senator Leahy’s Innocence Protection Act: (1) creates a federal post-conviction DNA testing process to protect the innocent from wrongful prosecutions; (2) helps States improve the quality of legal representation in capital cases; and (3) increases compensation in Federal cases of wrongful conviction. In addition, the bill creates the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Program and authorises $25 million over five years to help the States to defray the costs of post-conviction DNA testing.
  • Senators Kyl’s and Feinstein’s Crime Victims Rights Act that ensures victims’ rights are protected in criminal prosecutions.