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Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI)

FAQs

BJA encourages all SAKI recipients to work with the TTA provider to help develop and implement sustainable, streamlined, and efficient lab protocols and policies. In addition, resources to address this issue may be available through NIJ’s DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Program. More information on the NIJ program may be found here: http://www.nij.gov/topics/forensics/lab-operations/evidence-backlogs/Pages/backlog-reduction-program.aspx

No. The applicant must designate a specific individual as the SAKI Offender DNA Collection Coordinator and describe how this individual will work with the existing SAKI working group to ensure coordination of efforts; plan and perform DNA collections from convicted offenders to inform investigations and prosecutions of cases resulting from evidence provided by previously unsubmitted SAKs; and access criminal records and other sensitive law enforcement records. The DNA Collection Coordinator will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the project, including the census of convicted offenders; coordination with SAKI investigators to prioritize offender DNA collections; coordination of offender DNA testing and CODIS upload; monitoring law enforcement agencies’ adherence to protocol(s) related to victim notification; coordinating victim services, tracking status of CODIS Hits and subsequent investigations and prosecutions that result; and reporting performance measures to BJA.

Purpose Area 2 is intended to improve SAKI sites’ capacity to resolve cases associated with previously unsubmitted SAKs tested under Phase 1 of their SAKI project. As many practitioners and advocates are aware, DNA has not been collected from potentially thousands of convicted offenders across the United States (including sex offenders) due to the lack of coordinated DNA collections in some jurisdictions, as well as the frequent inability for rural and smaller municipalities to collect samples from offenders during booking/processing. This directly impacts law enforcement’s ability to solve sexual assault cases (and other crimes) using DNA. One of the key components of SAKI is the successful investigation, suspect identification, and prosecution of the cases associated with the unsubmitted SAKs. The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) is an extremely valuable tool for solving crimes but only if it is properly utilized and populated. In order to take full advantage of the power of DNA technology to solve cases resulting from the tested evidence in previously untested SAKS and provide long-awaited justice for sexual assault victims, FY 2015 SAKI-funded jurisdictions are eligible to apply for funding to expand the number of convicted offender samples in the CODIS database. 

Yes. To qualify for SAKI funding, applicants must propose to implement a comprehensive sexual assault response reform program plan that includes all three elements of the BJA model: 1. Inventory, 2. Creation of a Multidisciplinary Working Group, and 3. Designated Site Coordinator. Funds may be requested to support the three major elements if required, or for specific and discrete elements as determined by the needs of the applicant’s jurisdiction. However, regardless of the proposed use of funds, applicants must describe how their project will include all three of the BJA model’s elements in their program plan. 

BJA recognizes that this might be the case.  This grant program is intended to assist jurisdictions to develop a comprehensive approach to the issue of unsubmitted SAKs and sexual assault case response. Therefore, projects must allocate adequate resources to investigate and prosecute cases and enhance victim support and notification services in response to the evidence garnered through the testing process. Applicants are encouraged to seek funding for testing from additional sources if needed. BJA’s TTA provider will also work with grant recipients to attempt to identify additional non-BJA funding resources for the SAK testing component, if required. For example, some law enforcement agencies have previously received philanthropic donations to assist with the processing of SAKs. 

Yes. BJA created SAKI to meet the diverse needs of jurisdictions contending with untested SAK issues. Your application must propose to implement a comprehensive sexual assault response program plan that includes all three elements of the BJA model. Funds may be requested to support all three major elements if required, or, for specific and discrete elements as determined by the needs of your applicant’s jurisdiction. For example, funds may be used to support any or all of the following activities: the development of a multidisciplinary group, SAK testing and tracking, assistance with investigations, and enhanced victim services. Regardless of the use of funds proposed, applicants must ensure they still address all three of the model’s elements in their program plan.  In the case of a jurisdiction that has completed an inventory prior to applying for SAKI funding, they must provide certification of the completion of that process and results of the inventory as outlined in the solicitation. The application must also address the need for funds to support the remaining elements of the proposed project (e.g., testing, establishing/expanding multidisciplinary response, coordination and reform, or a combination therein), as well as how cases will be tracked throughout the project.

The BJA three-pronged model is evidence based, and is informed by the findings emerging from action research projects supported by the National Institute of Justice in Detroit, MI and Houston, TX.  BJA also reviewed recommendations produced by DOJ-sponsored expert meetings and publications on the issue of SAKS.  Links to these resources are as follows: Why Were So Many Sexual Assault Kits Not Tested in Detroit? Detroit Sexual Assault Kit Action Research Project  Houston Sexual Assault Kit Research Website A National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations: Adults/Adolescents  New Orleans Sexual Assault Evidence Project: Results and Recommendations Los Angeles Sexual Assault Kit Study Social Science Research on Forensic Science Topical Working Group Meeting Washington, DC, January 23–24, 2013 Summary of the Proceedings on Eliminating the Rape Kit Backlog: A Roundtable to Explore a Victim-Centered Approach held May 11-12, 2010

The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative administered by BJA differs substantially from NIJ’s DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction program. BJA’s program is focused on SAKs housed in law enforcement storage rooms, or other facilities, that have never been submitted to a crime lab for testing. While the BJA program does include testing of SAKs, it also aims to address why SAKs continue to remain unsubmitted for testing, and help jurisdictions implement new policies and procedures to prevent this from occurring again. Since the critical needs around unsubmitted SAKs in law enforcement agencies extend well beyond simply testing kits and increasing crime lab capacity, the BJA program also addresses the investigative and prosecutorial aspects of sexual assault cases resulting from the testing and enhancing provision of victim’s services. The NIJ program does not provide funding for these activities. NIJ does fund states and units of local government with existing crime laboratories that conduct DNA analysis to process, record, screen, and analyze forensic DNA and/or DNA database samples, and to increase the capacity of public forensic laboratories to process more DNA samples.  While many jurisdictions use the funding from the NIJ program to test sexual assault evidence, NIJ’s initiative focuses on all types of DNA evidence, which can include SAKs that have already been submitted to crime labs. The NIJ program does not address systems, evidence collection, storage, police, prosecution and laboratory practices and policies that contributed to the failure to submit SAKs from being tested. 

No. Lab equipment (e.g. robotics for automated DNA extractions) cannot be purchased with this program’s funding. Resources to purchase lab equipment may be available through NIJ’s DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Program. More information on the NIJ program may be found here: http://www.nij.gov/funding/pages/laboratory-enhancement.aspx. However, funding under BJA’s SAKI program may be used to support the implementation of sustainable automated and streamlined SAK processing procedures (i.e. assist with validations and the development of new Standard Operating Procedures). Further, BJA grant recipients may purchase an electronic evidence tracking system such as those that include barcode scanners and software that can facilitate multidisciplinary collaboration and case management, and crime labs may be included as users of these systems.

Funding does not apply to SAKs that have already been submitted for testing to a lab, or for the purchase of lab equipment.  The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) administers the DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Program to assist eligible states and units of local government to process, record, screen, and analyze forensic DNA and/or DNA database samples, and to increase the capacity of public forensic DNA and DNA database laboratories to process more DNA samples, thereby helping to reduce the number of forensic DNA and DNA database samples awaiting analysis. Visit the DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Program section of the NIJ website to learn more about this program.

BJA is soliciting applications for cooperative agreements for project periods of 36 months.

While we encourage crime labs to be co-applicants, they are not eligible as lead applicants.  Please see the solicitation’s eligibility requirements for more information.

For Purpose Area 1: Eligible applicants are state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, prosecutor’s offices, or a governmental non-law enforcement agency acting as fiscal agent for one of the previously listed entities.  Applicants who previously received grant awards under the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative FY 2015 Competitive Grant Announcement are eligible to apply for funding under both purpose areas included in this solicitation. However, such applicants will need to justify the need for additional funding support and clearly detail how additional funding will enhance or expand their ability to address the issues associated with unsubmitted SAKs in their jurisdiction. FY 2015 SAKI grantees must also summarize progress and deliverables achieved under their current SAKI grant to date.  For Purpose Area 2: Applicants to this purpose area must have received funding as lead applicants under the National SAKI FY 2015 Competitive Grant Announcement, and must clearly demonstrate that their jurisdiction has previously addressed, or is currently effectively addressing, the major issues associated with unsubmitted SAKs.

BJA has set the award amount for each cooperative agreement awarded under the Site-Based program at a maximum of $2 million per grantee for Purpose Area 1, and up to $1 million per grantee for Purpose Area 2 (depending on the jurisdiction’s need and justification for requested funds provided in the application). The available funding listed in the solicitation is an estimate only. The total funding put toward these activities will not be final until all awards are made.  A portion of all appropriated funding is used to cover costs associated with administering the programs.  However, those costs are not final at this time and are subject to change.