McConnell pushing for passage of bill to speed rape investigatio - WDRB 41 Louisville News

McConnell pushing for passage of bill to speed rape investigations

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell is pushing for passage of a bill that would help speed investigations of sexual assault cases.

It's called the Debbie Smith Act, named for a rape victim who is now a victim's advocate.

McConnell says the bill is being held up by Washington D.C. politics.

The Kentucky State Police is processing some 500 rape kits right now in its crime labs. There's a 6-9 month backlog to for technicians to obtain the DNA evidence to give to prosecutors. But without the Debbie Smith Act, which has provided some $3.5 million to Kentucky for equipment and personnel, officials here say justice would be delayed even longer.

"Over a year, if we didn't have that money to do what we've managed to do," said Laura Sudkamp, the director of the Kentucky State Police laboratory system.

Unless it's re-authorized the law will expire at the end of September. Debbie Smith herself joined Sen. McConnell at the KSP crime lab in Louisville to push for the bill's passage.

"It will help ensure that more of the perpetrators of these terrible crimes are brought to justice," said McConnell.

"As a mom and a homemaker, I'm saying, if you agree on this, let's send it through to keep it from lapsing in time and from any lapse in money," said Smith

The act has passed the House but has stalled in the U.S. Senate. McConnell says the Democratic leadership is trying to tie the act to another bill which the House opposes, called the the Justice For All Act.

He wants a separate vote on the Debbie Smith Act.

"There's no opposition to it. It is simply being used to pass yet another bill which I also support, but the House does not. And we're running out of time here," said McConnell.

"It's very frustrating. I just feel as if the bill is being held hostage," added Smith

It's a case of Washington politics potentially having a real affect on real victims of crime.

"We basically take home with us the stress of knowing that these cases are in our backlog. We know there are victims out there waiting for answers. And the faster we can turn the cases out without compromising the quality, that's our ultimate goal," said Sudkamp.

Although this was not billed as a campaign event, the appearance with Debbie Smith can certainly help McConnell with the women's vote, as he tries to hold off the challenge from Alison Lundergan Grimes.

McConnell did not take questions after the event.

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