IDVSA, with colleagues from Sam Houston State University and the Houston Police Department (HPD), received funding to address the issue of untested sexual assault kits (SAKs) in Houston, TX.
Stakeholders who represent research, crime lab, law enforcement, prosecution, forensic nursing, and advocacy formed the Houston Sexual Assault Kit Action Research Working Group. IDVSA researchers worked with these partners to understand the issue, develop and implement strategies to produce change, and evaluate the results.
HPD determined that 6,663 untested SAKs were stored in the property room. On average, untested SAKs were stored for five to seven years, with the oldest untested SAK collected in 1982. With city funding assistance, HPD committed to test all untested SAKs, to review all connected cases, and to further investigate cases as necessary.
Research goals were to understand the variables and conditions that led to HPD’s inventory of untested SAKs; reduce the untested inventory; and ultimately improve law enforcement response to sexual assault victims. IDVSA researchers sought to give voice to victims, identify their needs in the investigation process, and determine the best way and timing for the response system to re-contact them if tested SAKs generated a match in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a national database that contains DNA samples from convicted offenders.
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- Does the Justice Advocate Position Enhance Sex Crimes Investigations?
- Sexual Assault Victims’ Experiences of Notification after a CODIS Hit
- Noël Busch-Armendariz
- Catlin Sulley
- Deidi Olaya-Rodriguez
- Bruce Kellison