U.S. Senate Passage of the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Reduction Act Is Encouraging For All Advocacy Groups, Says A Just Cause

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A Just Cause renews support for total passage of Senator Leahy’s Justice for All Reauthorization Act (JFAA)

He who commits injustice is ever made more wretched than he who suffers it. - Plato - brainyquote.com

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According to a press release from the office of United States Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), on September 18th the Senator secured unanimous consent to pass the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Reduction Program Act. According to Senator Leahy’s press release, the bill passed and now goes to President Obama for signature.

“The Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Reduction Act has provided significant funding to reduce the backlog of untested rape kits so that victims need not live in fear while rape kits languish in storage,” Leahy said. “When we return in November, I hope Senators from both sides will act once again to support criminal justice reforms that help victims of crime and ensure that only the truly guilty are punished. The Justice for All Reauthorization Act can accomplish just that.”

“A critical point to consider with the passage of this bill is what Senator Leahy says about helping victims, but also ensuring that ‘only the truly guilty are punished’”, says Sam Thurman, A Just Cause. “As an advocacy group we hear of far too many cases where people have been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for decades only to find out later that DNA was available that eventually cleared them. The passage of the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Reduction Program Act can potentially impact hundreds of men, women and families, and A Just Cause is encouraged that it is now on President Obama’s desk for signature”, Thurman adds.

United States Senate Judiciary Committee records show that The Justice for All Reauthorization Act (S. 822) is a bipartisan bill that the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved October 2013. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act (H.R. 4323) in April 2014, which provides grants to states to reduce evidence backlogs in their crime labs. (Senator Goodlatte, Report form the Committee on the Judiciary, April 7, 2014, http://beta.congress.gov/congressional-report/113th-congress/house-report/404/1). The Debbie Smith Act passed the Senate on September 18, 2014.

According to Senator Leahy’s press release, “The Justice for All Reauthorization Act, which Leahy has long fought to extend, includes reauthorization of the Debbie Smith Act as well as several other critical programs for forensic testing and post-conviction DNA testing, has broad bipartisan support and has been pending in the Senate since last year. The bill is cosponsored by Senator John Cornyn and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and it was supported unanimously by the Judiciary Committee last year.” (http://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/leahy-ushers-legislation-to-reduce-rape-kit-backlogs-through-the-senate-thursday-night)

According to Leahy’s office, “The Debbie Smith Act is named after Debbie Smith, who waited years after being attacked before her rape kit was tested and the perpetrator was caught. Leahy has long supported the program and most recently included language in the Leahy-Crapo Violence Against Women Act to reduce the rape kit backlog. All Democratic Senators and nearly half the Republican caucus supported passage of the Leahy-Crapo VAWA bill. Just as the Senate came together to support those victims, Leahy urged all Senators to once again show their support for all victims of crime by supporting the Justice for All Reauthorization Act”. (http://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/leahy-ushers-legislation-to-reduce-rape-kit-backlogs-through-the-senate-thursday-night)

“We are encouraged by the progress being made with the Justice for All Reauthorization Act, and encourage other advocacy groups to help push for full passage”, says Sam Thurman.

“This type of legislation potentially impacts other legislation to right wrongful convictions in other categories”, proclaims Thurman. “To show our initial support, we have posted links on our home page (http://www.a-justcause.com), we have our volunteers reaching out to other members of Congress to encourage their support, and to date we can affirm that we have received over half a million (over 500,000) web impressions from press releases that we have put out regarding the Justice For All Reauthorization Act”, Thurman adds.

“We look forward to Senator Leahy and the co-sponsors gaining additional momentum with this bill. It is definitely needed”, Thurman concludes.

A Just Cause is an advocacy group that fights judicial abuse and cases of wrongful convictions. Among other initiatives, A Just Cause is currently working for the exoneration of six Colorado business executives known as the IRP6. The IRP6 case concerns an African-American company (IRP Solutions Corporation) in Colorado that developed the Case Investigative Life Cycle (CILC) criminal investigations software for federal, state, and local law enforcement. The company was raided in 2005 by federal investigators alleging wrongdoing by company executives. The IRP6 are Kendrick Barnes, Gary L Walker, Demetrius K. Harper, Clinton A Stewart, and David A Zirpolo (D. Ct. No. 1:09-CR-00266-CMA). The IRP6 have been incarcerated for over 2 years in federal prison in Florence, Colorado. (Federal Case Nos: NO. 11-1487, Case Nos. 11-1488, 11-1489, 11-1490, 11-1491 and 11-1492).

Records show that Appellant Attorney for the IRP6, Gwendolyn Solomon, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider reviewing the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the IRP6 case. U.S. Supreme Court records show that a petition for writ of certiorari was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on August 23, 2014 and placed on the docket on August 27, 2014. (U.S. Supreme Court, Docket No. 14-229, 8/27/14, RE: David A. Banks, Kendrick Barnes, Demetrius Harper, Clinton A. Stewart, Gary L. Walker, David A. Zirpolo vs. United States).

For more information about the story of the IRP6 go to http://www.freetheirp6.org.
Petition to support DOJ investigation of the IRP6 case go to:

https://www.change.org/petitions/attorney-general-eric-holder-investigate-federal-case-of-irp6-200-pages-of-court-transcript-missing

Related press releases: http://www.a-justcause.com/#!press-release/c21pq

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