Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $1,909,124)
The National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) provides funding to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors offices to support multidisciplinary community response teams engaged in the comprehensive reform of jurisdictions approaches to sexual assault cases resulting from evidence found in previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits (SAKs) - i.e. those SAKs that have never been submitted to a crime laboratory.
The goal of the SAKI is the creation of a coordinated community response that ensures just resolution to these cases whenever possible through a victim-centered approach, as well as to build jurisdictions capacity to prevent the development of conditions that lead to high numbers of unsubmitted SAKs in the future. The holistic program provides jurisdictions with resources to address their unsubmitted SAK issue, including support to inventory, test, and track SAKs; create and report performance metrics; access necessary training to increase effectiveness in addressing the complex issues associated with these cases and engage in multidisciplinary policy development, implementation, and coordination; and improve practices related to investigation, prosecution, and victim engagement and support in connection with evidence and cases resulting from the testing process.
The city of Memphis will use this 2015 SAKI award to continue their effort to eliminate the backlog and ensure all Sexual Assault Kits (SAKs) are promptly inventoried and processed. In October 2013, the city of Memphis reported it had up to 12,164 SAKs in various storage facilities in need of additional forensic analysis, leading the mayor to issue an executive order to address the issue. In January 2014, the Sexual Assault Kit Task Force (SAKTF) was established to ensure the many aspects of mitigation and reform are coordinated and continue to move forward. Nearly half of Memphis SAKs have been tested or are at labs awaiting testing and investigations are underway, yielding nearly 100 requests for indictment. Additional resources through the SAKI program, combined with testing resources from the District Attorney of New York will aid in the comprehensive, victim-centered approach and add value to citys efforts. Funds will be used for personnel costs associated with tracking and reporting SAKs, a site coordinator, and a Rape Crisis Center Counseling Coordinator; travel and training costs; expert witnesses; equipment purchases; implementation of a better SAKI tracking and evidence management system; shipping and testing of SAKs; and modification of their evidence based treatment protocol.