NO TIME LIMIT FOR JUSTICE ACT | HR5049, S3107
No Time Limit for Justice Act Empowers Child Sex Abuse Victims and Encourages States to Eliminate Statute of Limitations for Prosecuting Child Sexual Abuse and Civil Suits Involving Child Sexual Abuse;
August 2021: Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-4) and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced the No Time Limit for Justice Act, a bill that incentivizes states to eliminate their statute of limitations for criminal prosecution and civil suits involving child sexual abuse. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), every nine minutes a child is sexually abused in the United States, but only twelve percent of these cases are reported to authorities each year. Studies have shown that the discrepancies in underreporting of minor sexual abuse can be largely attributed to the fact that a majority of child victims do not reveal their abuse until later in life, if at all. While the current federal criminal code does not impose a statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, many state laws deprive victims and survivors of abuse the opportunity to heal and seek justice from their abusers. The No Time Limit for Justice Act would allow victims of child sexual abuse to seek justice and finally have their day in court by providing states that eliminate the statute of limitations for prosecuting child sexual abuse and civil suits involving child sexual abuse with a five percent increase in federal grant awards under the Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors (STOP) Program to train law enforcement and prosecutors handling child sexual abuse cases. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) is a cosponsor in the Senate.
The current federal criminal code does not impose a statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. However, many state laws deprive victims and survivors of abuse the opportunity to heal and seek justice from their abusers. Only seven states—North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming—have eliminated statutes of limitations for all felony sex crimes. Specifically, the No Time Limit for Justice Act would provide states with a five percent increase in federal grant awards under the Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors (STOP) Program to train law enforcement and prosecutors handling child sexual abuse cases. The STOP Grant is the largest program under the Office on Violence Against Women that provides formula funding to states for victim services, and training for law enforcement and prosecutors to constructively address sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. States are eligible for funding if they have:
- Eliminated the statute of limitations for prosecuting child sexual abuse
- Eliminated the statute of limitations civil suits involving child sexual abuse.
FSA is working with federal legislators to establish a national standard for statute of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse.
2020: Plans are underway to introduce a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI) and Senator Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY) will each lead the charge as primary sponsors in their respective houses.
The bill seeks to encourage 1) statute of limitations (SOL) reform for child sexual abuse and 2) reduction of rape kit backlog at the state level by providing federal monies for those states that:
- have no criminal SOL for child sexual abuse AND
- are actively working to reduce rape kit inventory/backlog
If passed, a State would be awarded a five percent increase of the amount that would otherwise be awarded under section 2007 of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 21 1968 (34 U.S.C. 10446). The five percent increase continues for five consecutive fiscal years.
On December 10, 2015, Senator Harry Reid [D-NV] introduced bill S.2397 and was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. This bill, S.2397, amends the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make grants to States that extend or eliminate unexpired statutes of limitation applicable to laws involving child sexual abuse.
These grants are intended for developing, establishing and operating programs to improve:
- Investigation – the assessment and investigation of suspected child abuse cases, in a manner that limits additional trauma to the child and the child’s family;
- Prosecution – the investigation and prosecution of cases of child sexual abuse; and
- Protection – the assessment and investigation of cases involving children with disabilities or serious health-related problems who are suspected victims of child sexual abuse.
YOUR VOICE MATTERS!
S.2397 pushes for states to seriously analyze their SOL laws and encourages them to either make massive changes or remove the statutes entirely. Contact your Senator TODAY to affirm your commitment and support of S.2397 to protect children from sexual abuse.