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Just one week after the high-level White House Roundtable on Violence
Against Women, RAINN's Scott Berkowitz was on hand as Kellie Greene and
crime-fighter John Walsh shared the podium with Attorney General Ashcroft as
the AG unveiled President Bush's plan to eliminate the backlog of unanalyzed
DNA evidence from rape crime scenes. RAINN's Jamie Zuieback also attended the announcement.

Ashcroft noted that "DNA evidence can breathe new life into long dormant
investigations. Already, evidence has identified hundreds of murderers and
rapists nationwide. I know there are some very courageous survivors here
with us today, who were finally able to see justice done when DNA testing
identified their perpetrators." Then he introduced Kellie Greene, who
relayed her experience and reinforced the importance of DNA to bring rapists
to justice.

The U.S. Department of Justice now estimates that the DNA backlog contains
evidence from 350,000 rape and murder cases. The Bush initiative proposes $1
billion over five years to analyze rape kits and offender samples and
increase lab capacity.

Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. James Sensenbrenner, chairmen of the Hill
Judiciary Committees, are now working on bipartisan legislation to realize
the administration's new plan. RAINN expects Congress to take action on
clearing the DNA backlog later this year.

In a humorous digression from the serious announcement, General Ashcroft
told the media about Operation Freefall, the national skydiving fundraiser
for RAINN and SOAR taking place later this month. After encouraging SOAR founder Greene to discuss the event, Ashcroft got America's Most Wanted host John Walsh to agree to jump.

In other DNA news, Berkowitz this month testified in favor of a Connecticut
bill that would mandate collection of DNA samples from all convicted felons,
as is the case in 25 other states. Currently, Connecticut is the only state
that does not collect DNA even from convicted murderers.

Berkowitz also joined State Rep. Jeffrey Berger, the bill's sponsor,
Assembly Majority Leader James Amann, forensic expert Dr. Henry Lee and
attorney Barry Scheck at a press conference to promote the bill.

Excerpted from RAINNews, May 2003


The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network is the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization. With a national perspective and broad reach, RAINN is a trusted resource for media, policymakers and the public. Additionally, RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE. Comprised of more than 1,000 local affiliates, the hotline has helped more than half a million victims of sexual assault since 1994. For more information, please visit the RAINN website at www.rainn.org

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