Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $1,090,450)
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 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.
The Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS) is being funded a Fiscal Year 2016 SAKI award under Purpose Area 1 to implement the BJA national model to reduce their backlog of unsubmitted SAKs. A statewide multi-disciplinary team of experts will work to address policy change and ensure a strong victim centered response. While this team is meeting to address and identify the factors that led to the un-submitted kits, while concurrently reviewing current policies and best practices, all kits in the jurisdictional control of Alaska State Troopers will be transferred to the Alaska Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory. Forensic scientists will assess the SAK's for probative value, and send selected SAKs to an external lab for processing. For the SAK's in possession, an experienced investigator and prosecuting attorney will provide specialized focus on the cases that result from CODIS hits. The multi-disciplinary team will include members from the statewide rape crisis center, Standing Together Against Rape, and the Office of Victims Rights, to ensure that a strong, and just victim centered response and notification system is in place. The University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center will evaluate the un-submitted SAKs to identify any consistent factors that could have led investigators to decide not to submit. These factors will inform statewide trainings to all AST detachments. While AST is only one portion of the un-submitted SAK's statewide, they generally lead the charge with other police departments adopting their successfully implemented. SAKI funds will be used to fund personnel costs for a Project Assistant to assist the Site Coordinator, an office assistant, an investigator, and a prosecutor; training and travel costs associated with delivering regional training for law enforcement, an onsite conference, investigations of cases throughout the state; and contractual costs for testing SAKs and an evaluation.
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