The Debbie Smith Bill

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If women are second-class citizens, rape, compared to murder, is a second-class crime. Until now. Where DNA is changing the way criminal justice deals with murder; freeing convicted killers, leading to the arrest, conviction and imprisonment of others, genetic clues in rape crimes are often left on the evidence room shelf, the victims left to wonder and fear.

Now, however, rape and sexual assault are getting new attention from politicians, and potentially, the labs. In 1989 Debbie Smith was raped. She lived with fear for more than six years, until tests were finally run and the rapist nailed.

Her story has lead to the drafting of legislation that could mandate better management of DNA evidence, could identify other rapists, could help more women move beyond fear.


Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), co-sponsor of The Debbie Smith Bill

Debbie Smith

Wendy Murphy – Visiting Assistant Professor of Law, New Enlgand School of Law.