Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $2,000,000)
Because of longstanding, complex factors, Kentucky previously faced a crisis as it discovered thousands of unsubmitted sexual assault forensic exam kits. In 2015, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a resolution requiring that agencies count the number of untested kits, which revealed over 3,000 unsubmitted kits. To address that backlog, the Kentucky State Police Forensic Lab received $2 million in funding from the District Attorney’s Office from New York County (“DANY”). Then in 2017, the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General (OAG) was awarded nearly $3 million in Sexual Assault Kit Initiative funding. The purpose of the grant was to test additional kits that were not included in the DANY inventory. In addition to testing, the grant funded a Cold Case Unit and a researcher at the University of Louisville. While the Cold Case Unit provided assistance to local jurisdictions, one challenge was addressing matters “beyond the kit.”
The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is proposing a renewed comprehensive approach focused on training and technical assistance statewide to remedy the failure to submit sexual assault kits and build a sustainable approach to address the current SAKI kits OAG will also work to prevent a backlog from recurring in the future. OAG is also seeking funding to outsource forensic genealogy searches and phenotyping/ancestral analysis for up to 25 cases. To enhance the completion of these cases, OAG proposes providing overtime support to local law enforcement agencies. Additionally, OAG requests funding to support the creation of a Pediatric/Adolescent sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE P/A) didactic course.
To promote a sustained cultural change regarding sexual assault, OAG will work with the SAKI Multidisciplinary Task Force (“Task Force”) on resource development and public awareness. The 2021 SAKI project will provide training and technical assistance to professionals working with crime victims, whether advocates or policy makers, to recognize, respect and respond to the needs and experiences of sexual assault survivors. The deliverables include: training law enforcement officers across the state and implementing “office hours” for technical assistance; funding training for pediatric/adolescent forensic nurses; updating victim notification resources; creating a cold case prosecution guide; implementing regional “Where We Stand” meetings; maintaining the state SAKI website; and providing training and technical assistance through the SAKI multidisciplinary team.
The service area for this proposal is the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky, with a particular emphasis on the rural and underserved parts of the state.