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The Evaluation of the Bureau of Justice Assistance Sexual Assault Kit Initiative: Process Evaluation and System Reform Assessment Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2020
36 pages

This report summarizes  findings and methodology of the process evaluation and system reform assessment of the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA’s) Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI), which was established to provide grants and technical assistance to jurisdictions for the support of “multidisciplinary community response teams engaged in the comprehensive reform of jurisdictions’ approaches to sexual assault cases resulting from evidence found in previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits (SAKs).”


This process evaluation examined the following components of the SAKI program implementation: 1) the strategies SAKI sites used to address each stage of the unsubmitted sexual assault kit (SAK) case process, including inventory, submission, testing, CODIS population, investigation, and prosecutions; and 2) the system-reform efforts implemented and the extent to which they resulted in intended or unintended consequences. The findings indicate the SAKI sites used a range of approaches in addressing each SAKI feature, including the SAK inventory, submission testing, CODIS population, investigation, and prosecution. Common strategies were found across SAKI stakeholders. There was also variability in strategies for decreasing the number of unsubmitted SAKs, improving evidence processing and victim engagement, and addressing issues specific to case investigation and prosecution. Most sites had defined victim engagement and notification processes. Regarding prosecution, a common strategy across several sites was to convict serial offenders by linking and trying the cases together. Some challenges faced by some sites included locating unsubmitted SAKs and tracking data elements associated with them. Choosing which cases to prosecute could also be challenging, since factors such as the sufficiency of the evidence and the desires of the victim were weighed against the potential for conviction. Sites’ relationship with the media could significantly affect how SAKI efforts were perceived. Features of the process evaluation’s methodology are described. 2 figures, 1 reference, and appended supplementary data

Date Published: December 1, 2020