Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2019, $2,000,000)
The National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) supports the Departments criminal justice priorities of reducing violent crime and supporting law enforcement officers and prosecutors by: (1) providing jurisdictions with resources to address sexual assault kits (SAKs) in their custody that have not been submitted to a forensic laboratory for testing with Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)-eligible DNA methodologies; (2) improving investigation and prosecution in connection with evidence and cases resulting from the testing process; and (3) providing sites with resources to collect DNA samples from qualifying individuals who should have a sample in CODIS (based on the type and time of the offense in relation to applicable state law), but from whom a sample has never been collected or submitted to a laboratory for testing. In addition, SAKI will provide investigators with assistance in how to more effectively question subjects, which could provide stronger investigative leads and build stronger prosecutorial cases, which in turn could help solve more crimes.
The FY 2019 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. In FY 2019, National SAKI Program funding is available under four Purpose Areas.
Recipients under Purpose Area 1: Comprehensive Approach to Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits will implement a comprehensive approach to unsubmitted SAKs that includes all three elements of the BJA model: inventory all unsubmitted SAKs; create a multidisciplinary working group; and designate a site coordinator. The goal of SAKI is the creation of a coordinated community response that ensures just resolution of these cases, whenever possible, through a victim-centered approach, and to build jurisdictions capacities to prevent the development of conditions that lead to high numbers of unsubmitted SAKs. This holistic program provides jurisdictions with resources to address their unsubmitted SAKs, 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 testing. Grant recipients must also enter all criteria cases into ViCAP (before the end of the grant period) to increase the chances of identifying and apprehending violent serial offenders who pose a serious threat to public safety.