Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $1,864,651)
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 Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 National SAKI Program will provide funds to recipients to implement or enhance the comprehensive BJA model to address the issues that underline the problem of unsubmitted SAKs or to expand their existing SAKI project to include the collection of lawfully owed DNA samples from convicted offenders.
Orange County, through the Orange County District Attorneys Office (OCDAO), is awarded an FY 2016 SAKI award under Purpose Area 1 to address the issue of unsubmitted SAKs within Orange County. Orange County will create a Multi-disciplinary Community Response Team (MDCR Team) to address the issue of unsubmitted SAKs and to develop procedures to ensure that past, present and future SAKs are tested, investigated and prosecuted in a timely manner. The team will meet regularly to identify the problems creating the backlog of unsubmitted SAKs; develop strategies to prioritize and efficiently process both unsubmitted and current SAKs; provide training to all relevant police agencies regarding these advanced strategies and procedures; and focus on the most effective ways to investigate and prosecute cases while providing victim support. SAKI funds will be used to fund the salaries of the Site Coordinator, who will oversee the SAKI project; a paralegal to assist the site coordinator; the Senior Deputy District Attorney, who will vertically prosecute all cases filed as a part of the program; and a Supervising Victim Advocate who will coordinate victim notification duties and provide resources and support to victims, work with law enforcement, social services, and prosecutors, and coordinate a 24-hour hot-line. SAKI funds will be used to hire an investigator within the sexual assault unit, who will act as a liaison for law enforcement agencies, assist in investigations of SAKI cases, connect victims with resources and support, and assist prosecutors; and a senior Forensic Scientist for the Orange County Crime Lab to address the increase in SAK submissions. SAKI funds will also be used for training and travel, supplies, and telephone services.