Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,500,000)
In August 2009, a Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor discovered over 11,000 sexual assault kits (SAK) in an off-site Detroit Police warehouse. Since then, all of the SAKs have been tested and as of May 3, 2022, the task force has completed 4,503 investigations, identified 838 suspected serial offenders, and tried 227 cases to conviction.
The goal of the project - to maintain and enhance the Wayne County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force's (WCSAKTF) ability to hold sexual assault offenders accountable, provide survivors with an opportunity for justice and healing, and prevent similar travesties from reoccurring - has never changed. And with SAKI 2022 support, the WCSAKTF will retain task force detectives to continue their work with new approaches for solving cases and reaching survivors and with new cases for investigation.
SAKI FY22 funds will support WCSAKTF detectives’ execution of the following objectives for the benefit of Detroit residents, former and current: 1) increase outreach and victims’ access to services through an Opt-In line; 2) expand the use of Forensic Genetic Genealogy to identify unknown serial sexual offenders 3) increase investigations of CODIS hit cases from 2009 to 2015 4) increase the use of ViCAP as an investigative tool; and 5) promote racial equity, increase access to justice, resources, and services, and send a message to the survivors “that what happened to them is of societal concern”.
The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office is seeking priority consideration under 1(A). An estimated 75% of the survivors associated with the 11,000+ SAKs are African American women from Detroit; a city where the median household income is $27,838. Project partners and WCSAKTF members recognize that the disbelief and skepticism often directed at sexual assault victims is disproportionately brought to bear on victims from marginalized populations; that access to law enforcement and the courts is often blocked by defensible mistrust; and that access to resources and services for survivors from unserved communities is often obscured by day-to-day concerns for sustenance, shelter, childcare, and transportation. For example. WCSAKTF’s holistic protocols and procedures are designed to remove these barriers, address potential trauma to victims with reopening historic sexual assault cases, prevent re-victimization, and promote racial equity by eradicating the root causes that led to the silencing of voices by the shelving of SAKs. Specific strategies and highlights of the WCSAKTF’s commitment to promote racial equity and remove barriers to access and opportunities are presented throughout the project.