There is currently no reliable estimate for the number of sexual assault kits (SAKs) that have not been submitted to a crime laboratory, and the reasons behind this backlog are complex. Unsubmitted SAKs can be attributed to many factors, including poor evidence tracking, outdated and ineffective investigation practices, lack of resources and personnel, misunderstanding of crime lab case acceptance policies, and lack of understanding among law enforcement personnel about the value of testing SAKs. Resolving these issues is critical to providing justice for victims and preventing future backlogs.
The National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) provides funding through a competitive grant program to support the jurisdictional reform of approaches to sexual assault cases resulting from evidence found in sexual assault kits (SAKs) that have never been submitted to a crime laboratory. SAKI is administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and aims to create a coordinated community response that ensures just resolution to sexual assault cases through: a comprehensive and victim-centered approach; jurisdictional capacity building to prevent high numbers of unsubmitted SAKs in the future: and supporting the investigation and prosecution of cases for which SAKs were previously unsubmitted.
The SAKI Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) program, led by RTI International and in partnership with a team of subject matter experts, including AEquitas, offers expertise and assistance to jurisdictions as they establish widespread, evidence-based, sustainable practices for:
-Collecting and processing forensic evidence
-Investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases resulting from evidence from previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits (SAKs)
-Supporting survivors of sexual assault.
In collaboration with ongoing efforts underway at the Office of Justice Programs and stakeholder organizations, the SAKI TTA team will assist in the development, implementation, and dissemination of best practices, policies, and protocols for addressing systematic issues that lead to large numbers of unsubmitted kits, and preventing those issues from reoccurring in the future.
The TTA team will efficiently disseminate publications and resources kits that address the lessons learned, common challenges, and best practices resulting from the experience of the SAKI grantees.
SAKI Virtual Academy