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Cross-Jurisdictional Comparison of Sexual Assault Kit Backlogs and their Criminal Justice Consequences

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)
Original Solicitation

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $39,999)

Two recent major studies, one in L.A. and another in Detroit, have come to different conclusions about the efficacy of clearing sexual assault kit backlogs. The Detroit team recommended that all kits be tested going forward, while the L.A. team recommended that only a subset be tested. We seek to add to the discussion by standardizing their methodologies and adding an additional jurisdiction to the existing corpus of sexual assault kit data. The purpose of this research is to explore the cross-jurisdictional differences between cities that have processed their sexual assault kit backlogs through 1) an analysis of the CODIS hits and prosecutorial outcomes, 2) a cost-benefit analysis of the cleared kits and outcomes, and 3) a comparison of other collateral consequences. The proposed project consists of a) Peterson et al. 2012 dataset hosted by the NACJD; b) Campbell et al. 2015 Detroit dataset to be hosted by the NACJD; c) original data collected from Houston crime laboratories and the Houston Police Departments.

This proposal seeks to enhance the 2012 Peterson NACJD dataset and the 2015 Campbell NACJD dataset in four significant ways: first, by standardizing and conducting a cross-jurisdictional comparison of the data contained in both datasets, second, by making use of public records requests to expand the relevant data to include Houston and Dallas, third, by aggregating data from all four data sets and creating regression models to predict which sexual assault cases will benefit most from testing, and fourth, by conducting a cost-benefit analysis of the current sexual assault kit backlog clearance system. In particular, this proposal will evaluate (1) the variables impacting the likelihood of obtaining a CODIS hit from a sexual assault case, (2) the outcomes of sexual assault cases for which CODIS hits are obtained versus those are not, (3) the utility of sexual assault kits in judicial outcomes.

This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.


Date Created: September 16, 2015