Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $796,985)
The Crime Victim Assistance Division (CVAD) of the Iowa Department of Justice maintains responsibility for paying the costs of forensic sexual assault exams conducted in the state. CVAD is additionally the agency which pays for the manufacture of sexual assault kits (SAKs) used in Iowa. SAKs are distributed to medical providers by the Department of Criminal Investigations Criminalistics Laboratory (DCI). SAKs with evidence collected are eventually analyzed by the DCI as well. Annually, 1,000-1,500 SAKs are distributed for use statewide. However, SAKS are not currently tracked from the point of distribution to use in a forensic exam; into law enforcement's possession; and, when submitted for analysis.
The Iowa Department of Justice is a recipient of the Bureau of Justice Assistance Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) funding. A statewide inventory showing 4,265 untested SAKs was completed in November, 2016. CVAD is the project lead, and the DCI is key partner in the the multi-disciplinary team (MDT). In addition to testing SAKs under the SAKI project, one of the goals of the MDT is to implement systemic changes which will prevent untested SAKs in the future.
The goal of the project under this solicitation is to obtain a web-based SAK tracking system, and implement it statewide for use to track movement and possession of SAKs from distribution by the DCI to medical facilities to law enforcement agencies and back to the DCI for analysis.
Funds from this project will support the additional cost to the current SAK manufacturer to add bar-codes to each SAK carton and corresponding victim information and consent form. The bar-codes will allow for quick and consistent data entry to track SAKs as they move.
As of this application, Iowa has nearly 400 active law enforcement agencies. However, the majority of SAKs inventoried are in possession of departments serving the six largest communities in the state. As a statewide initiative, we plan to implement the tracking system starting with law enforcement and medical providers in these communities, and roll it out to smaller communities over the course of the project. CVAD operates a robust and comprehensive website which will be utilized for project reporting requirements. As the SAKI MDT considers policy recommendations to address the systemic issue of untested SAKs, a statewide tracking system is a crucial piece for accountability, and victim-centered handling of SAKs and sexual assault cases.