Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $1,401,966)
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 Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) will us this 2015 SAKI award to address the untested SAKs in Connecticut. The Connecticut Commission on the Standardization of the Collection of Evidence in Sexual Assault Investigations presented survey findings of the Untested Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kits held at police departments in February 2015, which revealed approximately 1,000 SAKs currently being held outside the Division of Scientific Services. The SAK Working Group will coordinate project activities; use data to assess the progress made towards the goal of processing the 1,000 SAKs; make suggestions to aid DESPP in meeting goals; identify steps involved in processing sexual assault crimes from collection to adjudication; and identify delays, inconsistencies, failures, and best practices. DESPP will use the BJA model to implement a holistic victim-centered approach to the current issues associated with unsubmitted SAKS in Connecticut. The multidisciplinary working group will convene monthly to address and identify the individual level, organizational level, and systemic factors that lead to high numbers of unsubmitted SAKs in Connecticut and development of a comprehensive strategy to address the issue. The Working Group will comprise experienced individuals from law enforcement, forensic medical personnel, forensic laboratory personnel, victims advocates, and sexual assault response personnel. BJA SAKI funds will be used to fund the position of a Site Coordinator, overtime for forensic science examiners to test SAKs, the purchase of equipment and supplies for SAK testing, victim advocacy to support victims of sexual assaults, training and travel costs, and other costs necessary for project completion.