Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $1,999,954)
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.
The Office of the Attorney General of Virginia (OAG) is awarded an FY 2016 SAKI award under Purpose Area 1 to implement a comprehensive statewide sexual assault response program plan that includes all three elements of the BJA model. Two years ago, Virginia realized the number of untested Sexual Assault Kits (SAKs) or Physical Evidence Recovery Kits (PERKs) that were identified on law enforcement evidence room shelves across Virginia and the lack of resources to test them without a significant impact to the forensic laboratorys existing case-load. Based upon the previous inventory, Virginia estimates an additional 1,240 untested kits will be identified covering a two year period to be tested. Through the FY 2016 SAKI award, the OAG will create a coordinated community sexual assault response by: conducting an inventory of kits in the custody of law enforcement across the Commonwealth that were collected between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2016 but have not been submitted for analysis; outsourcing the DNA testing of the specified untested SAKs and the technical review of any DNA profiles obtained; implementing an evidence based approach to increase the SAK testing capacity of DFS, the state forensic laboratory system, by increasing the efficiency of identifying male DNA in submitting kits; creating a Multidisciplinary Working Group who will develop and disseminate model policies and best practices; developing and maintaining software to track and inventory all SAKs; hiring a Statewide Site Coordinator and a SAKI Victim Advocate; conducting intensive training for law enforcement and prosecutors on trauma informed interviewing; and providing local law enforcement personnel costs, including overtime, to allow for adequate follow up for investigations and prosecutions that result from evidence related to testing SAKs. These funds will improve Virginias state-wide response to sexual assault and allow them to integrate legislation and other sexual assault initiatives, complete testing, improve local prosecutors Sexual Assault Response Teams, and implement policies and protocols.