$40 million for federal sexual assault kits initiative

The Sexual Assault Kits Initiative aims to reduce the nation’s backlog of SAKs and assist jurisdictions in pursuing current and cold case sexual assaults


By Rachel Engel, P1 Staff

The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance is allotting $40 million for the Sexual Assault Kits Initiative, a competitive grant program designed to assist jurisdiction officials in processing SAKs, utilizing evidence obtained from SAKs to seek convictions and gathering DNA samples to submit to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

Each grant request must include three elements:

Rep. Marion O'Neill looks through a sexual assault evidence collection kit during testimony on work done by the Working Group on Untested Rape Kits. (Photo/Paul Battaglia/Minnesota Legislature)
Rep. Marion O'Neill looks through a sexual assault evidence collection kit during testimony on work done by the Working Group on Untested Rape Kits. (Photo/Paul Battaglia/Minnesota Legislature)
  • Inventory of all unsubmitted SAKs in the jurisdiction, regardless of where they are stored;
  • Create a multidisciplinary working group to address the reason for the high number of unsubmitted SAKs;
  • Designate a site coordinator to keep team members up to date on SAK numbers.

SAKI Grant Purpose Areas

Selected applicants will focus their projects on one of four purpose areas determined by BJA. They are:

  • Purpose 1: Comprehensive approach to unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits;
  • Purpose 2: SAKI for small agencies (under 250 sworn officers);
  • Purpose 3: Expansion of DNA database by collecting lawfully owed DNA samples;
  • Purpose 4: Investigation and prosecution of cold case sexual assaults.

Purpose 1: Comprehensive approach to unsubmitted SAKs

Grant recipients must submit a comprehensive approach to submitting previously unsubmitted SAKs, and for cataloging future kits. Funding can also be requested to assist with testing of other evidence relating to SAKs, but all projects must include the three elements required by BJA as outlined above.

Purpose 2: SAKI for small agencies

For recipients in this purpose area, all three of the elements required by BJA are necessary, but as scaled-down versions.  For this funding, applicants should:

  • Create a point of contact to keep all team members up to date on SAKs submissions
  • Establish a multidisciplinary working group to address the reason for unsubmitted SAKs that includes a prosecutor, an investigator and a community advocate (at a minimum)

Purpose 3: Expansion of DNA databases

Funding in this area will be used to expand DNA databases by locating and collecting samples from convicted offenders who should have samples in CODIS, but have never been tested.

This purpose area is a follow-up to the main goal of submitting all untested SAK, and jurisdictions should only seek funding for the Purpose Area 3 if they have submitted all previously unsubmitted SAKs and have a comprehensive plan in place to prevent a backlog from reoccurring.

Purpose 4: Investigation and prosecution of cold case sexual assaults

This funding area follows the submission of untested kits and the collection of needed DNA samples as the next logical step. Jurisdictions can receive funds in order to hire additional personnel for the specific task of investigating cold case sexual assaults, as well as for training purposes, enhancing victim services, travel costs associated with victim engagement or suspect interviews, and for using advanced DNA practices and search methods.

Get free toolkits that can assist public safety with SAKI here.

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