Based on lessons learned from a NIJ (National Institute of Justice) -funded project in Detroit, MI, this report offers recommendations that guide the development of a plan for testing a large number of previously untested sexual assault kits (SAKs).
First, form a multidisciplinary team to plan and implement an audit of previously untested SAKs. The team should include representatives from the police, prosecution, forensic sciences, medicine, and systems-based and community-based victim advocacy. Second, explore each team member's thoughts about the purpose and value of SAK testing. Third, discuss whether to test all or only some of the previously untested SAKs, which may be determined by the resources available. Suggestions are offered on the use of grants and fund-raising. Other recommendations for testing a large number of SAKs pertain to the selection of terms used to describe the process to be undertaken, the development of a process for selecting which SAKs will be tested, use of the State statute of limitations as a criterion for selecting the SAKs to be tested, and budgeting sufficient time and resources for selecting the SAKs to be tested. Recommendations also concern budgeting extra time for older SAKs, tracking and sharing testing results, a plan for what happens after testing is completed, the review of local policies and State statutes regarding evidence retention, and determining whether legislative changes are needed to resolve backlogs of untested SAKs. Resources with additional information on this issue are listed.
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