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Investigative Outcomes of CODIS Matches in Previously Untested Sexual Assault Kits

NCJ Number
255999
Date Published
2020
Length
23 pages
Author(s)
Robert C. Davis; Alicia Jurek; Joshua Shadwick
Agencies
NIJ-Sponsored
Grant Number(s)
2016-IJ-CX-0019
Annotation

In this NIJ-funded project, researchers worked with the sexual assault unit in each of five Texas cities to determine the investigative outcomes of CODIS hits from the legacy pre-August/2011 kits.

Abstract

The context for this study was created by a 2011 Texas law that required universal testing of sexual assault kits (SAKs), as well as identification and DNA analysis of previously untested kits in the possession of local laws enforcement agencies. Because the statute applied to the entire state, the number of untested SAKs identified was large (just over 18,000). This provided an unusual opportunity to examine the benefits and costs of DNA analysis of previously untested SAKs in a large sample of cases. The testing of SAKs is a labor intensive and financially expensive process. Costs have been approximated between $800 - $1,500. In the current cost-benefit analysis of the DNA analysis of untested SAKs, researchers coordinated with the sexual assault unit heads of municipal police agencies in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Arlington, and Corpus Christi. The sexual assault unit heads tracked what happened to CODIS matches from the 1996-2011 legacy untested sexual assault kits. At each site, researchers tracked the number of CODIS hits among legacy cases, investigative outcome, and the reason when it was terminated if the case did not result in arrest. The study found that the ratio of arrest and filings to all kits submitted for lab analysis was just under 1 percent, and the ratio of arrest and filing to CODIS hits was 5.5 percent. This report advises that although the Texas requirement to analyze all untested SAKS was commendable, it might have been more narrowly crafted. Certainly, cases in which the lab analysis could only confirm an arrest might have been excluded. 5 tables and 41 references

Date Created: January 19, 2021