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U.S. Department of Justice: National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI)

Deadline: April 9, 2019

The National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) is a competitive grant program that provides funding to support multidisciplinary community response teams to inventory, track, and test previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits (SAKs); collect and test lawfully owed DNA from offenders/arrestees; produce necessary protocols and policies to improve collaboration among laboratories, police, prosecutors, and victim service providers; provide resources to address the sexual assault investigations and prosecutions that result from evidence and Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) hits produced by tested SAKs; and optimize victim notification protocols and services.

SAKI supports law enforcement officers and prosecutors by: (1) providing jurisdictions with resources to address SAKs in their custody that have not been submitted to a forensic laboratory for testing by CODIS-eligible DNA methodologies; (2) improving investigation and prosecution in connection with evidence and cases resulting from the testing process; and (3) providing sites with resources to collect DNA samples from qualifying individuals who should have a sample in CODIS (based on the type and time of the offense in relation to applicable state law), but from whom a sample has never been collected or submitted to a laboratory for testing.

The causes of unsubmitted SAKs in the custody of law enforcement agencies can be attributed to a wide range of factors, including poor evidence tracking, inefficient chain of custody protocols, outdated and ineffective investigation practices, misunderstanding of crime laboratory case acceptance policies, and lack of understanding among law enforcement entities about the value of testing kits in various types of cases. Research has identified a need for more trained investigative and prosecutorial resources to deal with the increased number of investigations and prosecutions resulting from testing previously unsubmitted SAKs, as well as the importance of linking victims to needed services. Thus, the critical needs around this issue extend well beyond testing kits and increasing crime laboratory capacity: SAKI also addresses the investigative and prosecutorial aspects of sexual assault cases that result from the testing of kits, as well as the enhancement of the provision of victim services.

As part of this work, the Department of Justice (DOJ) will provide investigators with assistance in how to more effectively question subjects, which could provide stronger investigative leads and build stronger prosecutions, which in turn could help solve more crimes.

The three essential elements of the SAKI model are:

  1. Inventory all unsubmitted SAKs
  2. Create a multidisciplinary working group
  3. Designate a site coordinator

Purpose Areas include:

  • Purpose Area 1: Comprehensive approach to unsubmitted sexual assault kits
  • Purpose Area 2: SAKI for small agencies (fewer than 250 sworn officers)
  • Purpose Area 3: Expansion of DNA databases to assist with sexual assault investigations and prosecutions: collection of lawfully owed DNA from convicted offenders and arrestee DNA collections
  • Purpose Area 4: Investigation and prosecution of cold case sexual assaults

Amount: Approximately $40,000,000 is available to make awards for a 3-year period of performance in the following amounts:

  • Up to 12 awards of up to $2,500,000 each under Purpose Area 1
  • Up to 4 awards of up to $500,000 each for Purpose Area 2
  • Up to 4 awards of up to $1,000,000 each under Purpose Area 3
  • Up to 4 awards of up to $1,000,000 under Purpose Area 4

Eligibility: Eligible applicants for Purpose Areas 1, 2, 3, and 4 are state law enforcement agencies, units of local government, and federally recognized Indian tribal governments, as well as governmental non-law enforcement agencies acting as their fiscal agents, and prosecutor’s offices.

For Purpose Area 2, eligible applicants are limited to small law enforcement agencies with fewer than 250 sworn officers or consortia of small law enforcement agencies, including tribal law enforcement agencies.

An applicant who previously received an award under the SAKI is eligible to apply for funding under all purpose areas included in this solicitation. However, the applicant must:

  • Clearly justify the need for additional funding support and detail how additional funding will enhance or expand its ability to address issues associated with unsubmitted SAKs in its jurisdiction
  • Summarize progress and deliverables achieved under its current SAKI grant to date
  • Include in its application the plan and budget to complete an expanded inventory to include partially tested SAKs, if this has not already been done

Link: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=312722

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