Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $1,953,447)
The State Attorney’s Office for Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit serves Duval, Clay, and Nassau counties. In 2014, an inventory revealed more than 1,700 untested sexual assault kits (SAKs) throughout the Circuit. Under the SAKI/DANY grant and the leadership of the newly developed SAKI Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT), 1,748 SAKs from the Circuit were tested, which eliminated the backlog of unsubmitted SAKs and resulted in 793 profiles entered in the CODIS database and 426 hits. As the applicant, the SAO will serve as the lead agency for the SAKI MDT project.
To date, 165 cases have been identified for prosecution and charges have been filed in 34 cases. Approximately 938 cases returned inconclusive DNA results and it is estimated that 1,404 cases contain secondary items of evidence, which could benefit from additional DNA testing.
The currently funded SAO SAKI Unit consists of a site coordinator, two dedicated prosecutors, a dedicated investigator, a victim advocate, a paralegal support specialist, a detective and a community-based victim advocate. These positions are crucial.
Almost all filed cases under the initiative are against serial offenders. These cases present a significant time delay between reporting and prosecution. The combination of these factors leads to extensive, complex, and lengthy litigation requiring significant resources to successfully prosecute these cases. Operational delays outside the ordinary course of business due to COVID-19 impacted the project’s ability to bring SAK cases to court for over a year. Thus, we anticipate that it will take at least three more years for the prosecution of the initially submitted SAKs to be complete. Additional funds are necessary to cover the expenses associated with the current SAKI Unit, successfully track and prosecute the remainder of the SAKI cases.
The SAO developed an internal case management tracking system for SAKs. Florida recently mandated FDLE to implement a statewide tracking system. An FDLE subject matter expert will join the MDT and will assist with developing internal policies to ensure proper communication to victims.
Deliverables include: continuing to prosecute the actively filed SAK cases, continuing the victim centered approach of the project, and continuing the MDT’s mission to enhance inter-agency cooperation, community engagement, education and involvement.
These efforts will help prevent further criminal activity by high-risk individuals while also serving survivors and the community. We thank you for your consideration and hope to continue a partnership that makes an impact in the lives of survivors and enhances public safety.