Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $1,993,741)
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 Cuyahoga County Prosecutors Office (CCPO) will use this 2015 SAKI award to prosecute the anticipated 1,000 cases which resulted from the testing of more than 4,000 unsubmitted SAKs between 2013 and 2014 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. The goal of this project is to enhance the Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit Task Forces capacity to address these cases in an evidence-based, victim-centered manner. This goal will be achieved by pursuit of the following objectives: to increase capacity for prosecution and victim advocacy in response to the growing number of cases resulting from testing; to enhance task force competencies and capabilities through cross-disciplinary training, especially as it relates to victim-centered practices; to establish evidence-based, victim-centered protocols and policies for all disciplines and activities within the Task Force; to leverage data to improve the understanding of sexual assault and inform the creation of necessary interventions; and develop training tools for other jurisdictions in the early stages of establishing a response to the issue of unsubmitted SAKs. BJA SAKI funds will be used to fund prosecutors, assistant prosecuting attorneys, a site coordinator, a victim advocate, training and travel costs, research and victim services, and other costs necessary for project implementation.