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DPS Sexual Assault Kit Initiative

Department of Public Safety (DPS) was awarded a total of $1.5 million in Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) funds from Bureau of Justice Assistance. The goal of SAKI is to support DPS in evaluating the approaches to sexual assault cases resulting from evidence found in sexual assault kits (SAKs) that have never been submitted to the Crime Lab for testing. DPS will use the testing results from the 577 eligible SAKS collected by Alaska State Troopers to develop evidence-based best practices. Additionally, DPS will follow up on resulting investigative leads, review for possible prosecution, and address the need for survivor notification and re-engagement with the criminal justice system.

AST Untested SAKs

 
707 kits inventoried
50 previously tested
657 previously untested
577 submitted to private lab
80 not submitted for testing
16 anonymous reports
14 too damaged
30 adjudicated
20 mislabeled












 

As of September 2018, all 577 eligible AST SAKs have been submitted to the private lab for analysis. 280 DNA reports have been received back. Of the 53 resulting CODIS eligible profiles, 20 profiles resulted in matches, 17 have not received a match, and 16 profiles were removed from CODIS. Profiles are removed from CODIS if determined later to be inegible (e.g. profiles that are later confirmed to be consensual sexual partners are removed).  Data will be updated quarterly. As cases move forward in the criminal justice system, the available data will be expanded.

 

* Please note that CODIS hits are database matches between a forensic sample (in these cases, swabs taken from a survivor's body) and a known DNA profile from the possible suspect. Often these hits are "warm hits" which means the forensic sample matches the named suspect. Cases that receive hits will be evaluated by a multidisciplinary team.  
 
The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA)  Justice Center is a respected, independent resource for research in the state of Alaska. The UAA Justice Center was established by the Alaska Legislature in 1975 and is a research unit in the College of Health in UAA. Their mission is to "provide statewide justice-related education, research, and service. The Justice Center is an interdisciplinary unit that provides undergraduate graduate, and professional education; conducts research in the areas of crime, law, and justice; and provides services to government units, justice agencies, and community organizations throughout urban and rural Alaska to promote a safe, healthy, and just society. " 



DPS SAKI enlisted the services of the UAA Justice Center to conduct comprehensive research to answer the overarching research question:

  
How could Alaska DPS and partners improve their practices related to sexual assault investigation,
prosecution, and victim engagement and support?

 
Key research questions Useful for Data sources
1. What are key stakeholders’ experiences with sexual assault investigations and prosecutions and how do those experiences compare to their perceptions of just resolutions?
Key stakeholders include:
  • Sexual assault survivors
  • SANE/SART first responders
  • Investigating officers
  • Prosecutors
Identifying key stakeholder experiences and priorities

Identifying conflicts in priorities
Interview transcripts
(Qualitative data)
2. How common are the just resolutions identified by key stakeholders?
 
Assessing effectiveness of current system

Survivor surveys and/or DPS electronic records (Depends on which just resolutions are identified by stakeholders in interviews

3.  What factors (including SAK submission and/or results) shape the likelihood of achieving those just resolutions? Identifying areas for improvement in current system



Survivor voice is a critical component to improving criminal justice responses and services. The UAA Justice Center would like to enlist the participation of survivors across the state. Please see below for more information.

See the Interview Recruitment Flyer here.
Read the FAQs here.  
Read the Survivor Consent Form here.
 
At the start of the DPS SAKI project, a number of stakeholders statewide, were identified by the Governor's Office and DPS to serve on the working group. It was important to have a variety of perspectives represented on the working group. The working group ensures the recommendations and procedures set forth through the life of the project are victim-centered and trauma-informed.

The working group consists of members from:

Alaska Department of Public Safety
Alaska Department of Law
Alaska Office of the Governor
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
Alaska State Troopers
Alaska Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory
Anchorage Police Department
Council on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault
Bering Sea Women's Group
ADE Forensic Consulting
Office of Victims' Rights
Standing Together Against Rape
University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center
 
For questions regarding DPS SAKI, please contact the site coordinators:

Major Bryan Barlow                                 Randi Breager, Criminal Justice Planner
Alaska State Troopers               or           Crime Lab
bryan.barlow@alaska.gov                       randi.breager@alaska.gov