Ahead of proposing new provisions to legislation that helps protect sexual assault survivors and those who have been wrongfully accused, Sen. John Cornyn held a roundtable Tuesday at the University of North Texas’ Health Science center to explain why the bill reintroduction would be beneficial.
The Justice For All Reauthorization Act, passed initially in 2016, had a goal of offering protections for both survivors and the wrongfully accused, on top of helping eliminate a rape kit backlog. The original bill increased resources to DNA and forensic technology, helped prevent wrongful convictions and increased protections for victims, according to a statement.
Under the 2022 version, victim rights would be strengthened to include improving access to victim resources and eliminating the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse. It also allows more money for forensic science services nationwide and helps fund conviction integrity units at prosecutor offices to review potential wrongful convictions, according to the release.
Event attendees had the opportunity to hear from officials from the city, the Health Science Center and members of law enforcement, as well as a sexual assault survivor and someone who has been exonerated.
If passed, UNT System Chancellor Michael Williams said, the legislation would help expand resources for the Health Science Center’s forensics team.
Cornyn said the bill has been crucial in not only solving crimes, but exonerating those who are innocent.
“It’s time to strengthen that legislation and reauthorize it,” he said.