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DOJ Press Release letterhead

  • Wednesday, May 25, 2011
  • Office of Justice Programs
  • Contact: Sheila Jerusalem
  • (202) 307-0703

Justice Department Publication Examines the Issue of Untested Sexual Assault Kits

WASHINGTON - The Department of Justice's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) today announced the release of "The Road Ahead: Unanalyzed Evidence in Sexual Assault Cases," a Special Report. This report examines the issue of untested sexual assault kits ("SAKs" - often referred to as "rape kits") found in police evidence rooms, a problem that jurisdictions nationwide are struggling to solve.

As the country grapples with the discovery of thousands of older sexual assault kits, it is important that approaches to this problem balance justice, public safety and the victims' needs. This report highlights issues that must be examined in order to develop lasting solutions, such as how law enforcement determines whether a SAK should be sent to the crime lab for analysis and when (and if) victims should be notified when a jurisdiction discovers their untested SAK. The report also examines the complex issues regarding protocols for sending SAKs to the lab for analysis, triaging cases for analysis and determining appropriate police follow-up, and notifying victims about the discovery of their untested SAK.

This report addresses the nationwide need to move beyond "crisis management" to the adoption of systematic practices, procedures and protocols that will prevent this problem from happening in the future.

TITLE: "The Road Ahead: Unanalyzed Evidence in Sexual Assault Cases," a Special Report from the National Institute of Justice
AUTHOR: Nancy Ritter, National Institute of Justice
WHERE: National Criminal Justice Reference Service


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