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DOJ Press Release letterhead

  • Friday, April 8, 2011
  • Contact: Office of Justice Programs
  • Contact: Sheila Jerusalem
  • (202) 307-0703

DOJ Will Study Untested Sexual Assault Kits in Michigan and Texas

WASHINGTON - The Department of Justice today announced the first research grants awarded to address untested sexual assault kits (SAK), also known as rape kits. Wayne County, Mich., was awarded $200,000 and the City of Houston, Texas, received $176,000 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 funding. The funding enables researchers and practitioners to collaboratively review and inventory SAKs to determine why they were not sent to the lab.

These two grants, to be administered by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), are part one of a planned two-phase project to identify underlying reasons why SAK evidence is not tested and to develop practices to improve the criminal justice response to sexual assault.

"These research projects will enable us to better understand what happens to sexual assault evidence, why it might not be analyzed, and what we need to do to fix the problem. When sexual assault kits go untested, it can result in significant and unnecessary delays in justice for sexual assault victims," said NIJ Director John Laub.

In Phase I, for which this FY 2010 funding was awarded, researchers will team up with representatives from the police department, crime lab, prosecutor's office and community-based victim services organizations in Wayne County and Houston. The teams will develop a strategy to tackle their problems, with special emphasis on how and when to notify victims when their SAK (which may be years old) is going to be tested.

In Phase II of the project, NIJ seeks to provide additional funds to help the two jurisdictions implement their strategies and evaluate their effectiveness. NIJ anticipates that these two projects will produce transportable lessons and strategies for other jurisdictions experiencing similar problems.

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The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Laurie O. Robinson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has seven bureaus and offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; the Community Capacity Development Office; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART). More information about OJP and its components can be found at