This factsheet suggests media considerations for jurisdictions that have received grants under the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance's (BJA's) Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI), which promotes the establishment of practices for the efficient and effective reduction in a backlog of sexual assault kits (SAKs) that have not been submitted for testing.
The SAKI Training and Technical Assistance team recommends practices for establishing or strengthening a media strategy related to uncommitted SAKs in a jurisdiction that effectively informs a community about the SAKI project. One suggested practice is to establish a point of contact for any questions from the media. This may be a public information officer who already is familiar with interacting with the media. A second suggested practice is to remain transparent with the media, which means being clear and open with reporters and community members about SAKI and the efforts underway to address the SAK backlog. A third suggestion is to be proactive in reaching out to the media to announce milestones and achievements throughout the project. A fourth recommendation is to protect victims in any cases discussed, so as to protect their privacy. A fifth suggestion is be frank with the media about why there is a backlog of untested SAKs. Research has shown that factors include poor evidence tracking, outdated and ineffective investigative practices, gaps in knowledge about how unresolved cases affect victims, and a failure to understand the value of DNA identified from SAK items. The discussion of backlog causes should not engage in critical comments about particular agencies or individuals, bur rather focus on system wide failures and how they are being addressed. Resources and examples are provided on how other SAKI sites have developed positive media coverage and informed the public.
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