Responding to Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits

A new report describes findings about unsubmitted sexual assault kits in Wayne County (Detroit), Michigan. A multidisciplinary team investigated the situation and found a number of effective and sustainable responses and ways to prevent the problem from recurring.

The team found several underlying “risk factors” that contributed to the large quantity of unsubmitted SAKs in Detroit, including:

1. Victim-blaming beliefs and behaviors by police.
2. No written protocol for submitting kits to the lab for testing.
3. Budget cuts that reduced the number of law enforcement and crime lab personnel.
4. High turnover in police leadership.
5. Lack of community-based victim advocacy services.

The final report gives a detailed look at their experience, including lessons learned from performing a census of SAKs, uncovering factors that contributed to the problem, testing of a sample of 1,600 kits, and developing victim-centered, trauma-informed notification protocols. You can download it here.

Source: NIJ

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