Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $2,289,394)
The Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office (PCDAO) is applying for grant funding to address the unsubmitted SAKs in law enforcement custody within Plymouth County, Massachusetts. A Site Coordinator will be hired and will inventory the untested SAKs. Unsubmitted kits will then be submitted to the Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab for testing. Due to the overwhelming number of current SAKs already submitted for testing, the Massachusetts State Police will contract with an outside lab to perform the testing. Once the SAKs are tested, the DNA will be uploaded into CODIS for possible match to offenders.
In anticipation of multiple CODIS hits, a Cold Case Investigator, Assistant District Attorney and two Victim Witness Advocates will be hired. This team will work together to further investigate the cases, gather evidence, and prosecute offenders. Many of these kits are old and notifying victims of offender DNA matches must be done carefully to avoid re-traumatizing victims. The Victim Witness Advocates will work with the Investigator in an effort to reduce any trauma to the victim from the notification process through to prosecution.
In the first six months of the grant, a multi-disciplinary task force will be created. They will meet on a regular basis to review policies and procedures, and to create the most effective, efficient, and victim-centered processes. This will allow for a seamless process of inventory, testing, investigating, notifying victims and prosecuting sexual assault cases.
This 3 year grant funding will provide a critical foundation for the development of comprehensive policies and procedures that reflect the Bureau of Justice Assistance response model. It will also provide data to inform and educate other jurisdictions statewide about the importance of timely SAK submissions for both law enforcement and sexual assault victims.
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