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DNA Awareness March and Rally Tuesday August 27

by The Rainbow Sisters Project Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2002 at 1:55 PM (310 )458-6368

Honor Victims of Violent Crimes and the Wrongly Convicted THE FIRST EVER DNA AWARENESS MARCH AND RALLY FOR PUBLIC SAFETY Tuesday, August 27th 10 AM-1 PM in Downtown LA DNA Helps Convict the Guilty and Free the Innocent





To Honor Victims of Violent Crimes and

the Wrongly Convicted

Tuesday, August 27th 10 AM-1 PM in Downtown LA

DNA Helps Convict the Guilty and Free the Innocent

Let Law Enforcement Officials and

Elected Officials Know You Support:

* A Halt to the Destruction of DNA Evidence by the LAPD and LA County Sheriffs

* Adequate DNA Testing Space and Staff for the NEW LA County Regional Crime Lab

* Two DNA-Related Bills currently before the U.S. Congress:

The Debbie Smith Act: authorizes funding testing for backlogged DNA evidence

and testing of new DNA evidence within 10 days of the crime.

The Innocence Protection Act: would increase access to DNA testing for

capital cases.

WHY: TAKE A STAND and let elected officials and law enforcement officials

know, citizens and taxpayers care about the safety of our streets and about

how our money is spent. When there is failure to collect, preserve or

promptly test DNA evidence: crime victims and their families, the wrongly

convicted and our communities suffer.

180,000 - 500,000 rape evidence kits are sitting backlogged, awaiting DNA lab

analysis nationwide. No one knows for certain how many thousands of those

kits remain on California's shelves untested.

LAPD officials acknowledged that they, "accidentally destroyed biological

evidence in at least 1,100 sexual assault cases since 1995," the LA Times

reported (July 30, 2002). Each one of those evidence kits destroyed may have

taken a rapist off the street or freed an innocent man.

Plans for a new -million LA County Regional Crime Lab were recently

approved over criticism that the lab would be "inadequate and obsolete before

they opened its doors." District Attorney Cooley, joined by rape survivors

and advocates, fault the planners for not setting aside sufficient space and

staff for DNA testing and the lab's DNA section will need to hire more

scientists to accommodate requests for testing and to make a dent in the

backlog. The LA Times (June 28, 2002)

Cooley is quoted in the LA Times (May 22, 2002) as saying: "If we're standing

in court, with the whole world knowing about DNA technology, and some agency

hasn't gathered the forensics evidence and had it tested in a timely manner,

then the case will probably fail. DNA technology is the ultimate in crime

prevention, and if anyone doesn't appreciate that ... they are not doing

their job."

"Each one of these stalled (backlogged) cases represents women's lives," says

Debbie Smith, a rape survivor, who has bill named in her honor before US

Congress. "Many women are paralyzed after an attack because their rapist is

still out there, and you never know if he's going to come back." Smith's

emotional testimony moved many Washington lawmakers to tears — and action.

"There are now 109 Americans who have been exonerated by post-conviction DNA

testing," said DNA expert and attorney Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project

testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. "There can be no

doubt the number of wrongly convicted freed by DNA testing would dramatically

increase if the post-conviction DNA legislation were passed by Congress ––

just as apprehension of the real perpetrators of these crimes through DNA

databank "hits" would impressively proliferate. This is a "win-win"

proposition for law enforcement, innocents who rot in America's prisons and

death rows, crime victims, families of all involved, and anyone who loves justice. "

WHEN: Tuesday, August 27, 2002 – 10 AM-1 PM

WHERE: Gather at LAPD Parker Center, Los Angeles St. and First St. for and

rally and picket. We will then cross the street to the Downtown Federal

Building to rally in support two bills before US Congress: the Debbie Smith

Act and the Innocence Protection Act. The next stop will be the LA County

Board of Supervisors Meeting at Temple St. and Grand Ave. Downtown LA.

PARKING: .00 All-Day Parking Lot on 2nd and Los Angeles St.


That Jeri Elster, was raped on August 27, 1992, in Los Angeles and will never

see her rapist prosecuted even though he was identified through a "cold hit"

DNA match. The police and DA failed to test the DNA evidence before the old

six-year statute of limitations had lapsed.

Jeri's testimony and lobbying help change California laws. The new law

enacted on January 1, 2001, effectively eliminate the statute of limitations

on rape when DNA can identify the rapist. This first ever DNA Awareness March

and Rally is being held on the 10th Anniversary of Jeri's assault to honor

her and all rape survivors.


That Herman Atkins, an innocent man spent 12 years of his 45-year sentence

for rape – before he was set free from a California prison. His release came

after a DNA test provided the proof. It took three years to get a judge to

agree to DNA testing of the biological evidence. But when the FBI confirmed

the results, prosecutors released him.

While Herman was in prison the real perpetrator remained free from

prosecution. Herman’s story has helped change California laws, those

incarcerated now have greater access to DNA evidence testing post-conviction.

But, had the crime that Herman was convicted of occurred in the City of LA

instead of Riverside County he might still be behind bars. The current LAPD

system allows evidence in rape cases to be destroyed after four years.

ENDORSED BY: Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN); Murder Victims

Families for Reconciliation (MVFR); The Post Conviction Assistance Center;

Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform; the Innocence Project; Equal Justice USA/Quixote Center and more endorsers TBA.

The Rainbow Sisters Project (, is an LA-based

national group of rape survivor/activists who are dedicated to direct action,

public education, and legislative lobbying to improve the lives of rape

survivors and society as a whole.

For more information: or E-mail or call (310 )458-6368


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