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Congressional Budget Includes Earmark to Keep Washington's Sexual Assault DNA Program Moving Forward
Date:1/10/2008

Funding will allow the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs

to quickly identify rapists through a 30-Day DNA testing program

OLYMPIA, Wash., Jan. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The Omnibus Appropriations bill signed by the President on December 26, 2007 included a $961,000 earmark for the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) to continue the important DNA Stranger Rape Program.

"Without this funding, our DNA Stranger Rape Program would have ended in 2008. With these funds, we can quickly solve rape cases and prevent additional rapes by keeping sex predators off the streets," said Don Pierce, Executive Director of WASPC.

In November 2006, WASPC began the DNA Stranger Rape Program. The program utilizes a private laboratory to analyze DNA evidence from rape cases in 30 days or less. Prior to this program, when a stranger rape occurred, the rape kit was routinely placed into a long backlog of no suspect cases.

The WASPC DNA Stranger Rape Program is designed to be fast and effective. When a stranger rape occurs in Washington State, WASPC immediately works with the local law enforcement agency to ensure the rape kit is on a plane to a lab in Dallas, Texas. There, it receives priority DNA testing by a private DNA testing laboratory that is able to guarantee results within 30 days. The test results are then compared to known suspects and given to the Washington State Patrol to be compared to state and national DNA databases. National statistics indicate that a match with a suspect will occur in approximately one third of the cases where there was no original suspect.

The DNA Stranger Rape Program has been very effective and produced immediate results upon implementation. Within a week of starting the program, it identified the rapist of a young girl in Olympia in a highly publicized case. In addition to identifying the actual perpetrator, the DNA test exonerated an innocent suspect.

Knowing that the program was scheduled to run out of funding in 2008, WASPC approached the Washington Congressional delegation for help. Through the collective efforts of Senators Murray and Cantwell and Congressmen Dicks, Smith, and Reichert, the funding was secured. "The delegation got behind this project," said Pierce. "We are fortunate in Washington State to have a group of congressional members who are able to secure funds for important Washington State programs."

With the $961,000 congressional earmark, the program will likely have sufficient funding to operate through 2009.

For more information on WASPC and the DNA Stranger Rape Program visit http://www.waspc.org.


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SOURCE Don Pierce
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