Home > Projects > Addressing the National Problem of Untested Sexual Assault Kits
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Funder: National Institute of Justice and Bureau of Justice Assistance
PI: Rebecca Campbell
Dates: 2011-2018

When sexual assault victims seek help after an assault, they are advised to have a medical forensic exam (MFE) and sexual assault kit (SAK) (also termed a “rape kit”) to preserve physical evidence of the crime. The evidence in the SAK can be analyzed for DNA, which can be instrumental in solving crimes and prosecuting perpetrators. However, growing number of social science studies and investigative reporting projects indicate that police are not routinely submitting rape kits for forensic DNA testing. Instead, SAKs are often placed in police property storage, unexamined and untested. From 2011 to 2015, the National Institute of Justice funded the Detroit Sexual Assault Kit Action Research Project to develop evidence-based strategies to address the approximately 11,000 untested SAKs in that jurisdiction. We worked with multidisciplinary community stakeholders to create empirically-informed testing plans and victim notification protocols. Now, we are extending that work with funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance and our colleagues at RTI International on the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Project to provide training and technical assistance to other U.S. jurisdictions that have large numbers of untested rape kits (see: sakitta.org).

Learn more about this project and watch video interviews with Dr. Rebecca Campbell in the National Institute of Justice’s report, “Down the Road.”  Additional information can be found on this page from the National Institute of Justice.

A White House Blog also covered the project and highlighted the impact this work will make on the bigger picture of untested sexual assault kits.

Resources for communities on untested rape kits:
NIJ Creating a Sexual Assualt Kit Testing Plan Report
NIJ Performing an Audit of Sexual Assult Kits Report
NIJ SAK Victim Notification Report


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