A statewide inventory in 2017 found more than 3,000 sexual assault kits spread across nearly 50 police agencies in Alaska that had never been submitted to the Crime Lab for DNA analysis. These kits spanned three decades, and there were many reasons kits were not submitted for testing over the years. In some instances, the kit was not submitted for testing because it was not needed for the immediate case. Sometimes, law enforcement or prosecutors made the determination that a sexual assault investigation would not proceed any further in the criminal justice process and declined to submit the kit for analysis. All of these decisions were made based on individual cases, and not necessarily with the potential impact on other cases in mind.
As science and training improved and the CODIS database became more and more robust, we realized we were not capitalizing on the power of such data as much as we could have. Time, experience, and research also tells us that sexual assault offenders often assault more than one victim and often commit other types of crimes. DNA may be the key to linking that offender to other actions they have not been held accountable for yet. We now know there is incredible value in testing these kits. As a result, the Department of Public Safety is additionally evaluating its policies and procedures to ensure we improve our response to sexual assault survivors. Providing more information on this process, accessible through this website, is only one step.
I do not take for granted that an immense amount of trust must be placed in the criminal justice system for someone to report something as devastating as sexual assault – that is a trust Department of Public Safety must not take lightly. It must be continually earned, and at times earned back again.
Survivors of sexual assault deserve justice, and we believe this project and publication of this data is a way for us to continue strides in that direction. I invite you to explore this website and return to it on a regular basis to learn more about our work and progress.
Commissioner of Public Safety