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Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits in Houston, TX: Case Characteristics, Forensic Testing Results, and the Investigation of CODIS Hits, Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2016
2 pages
This is the executive summary of a report that presents the methods and findings of the Houston (Texas) Action-Research Project, which examined the causes and consequences of the backlog of sexual assault kits (SAKs) that had not been submitted by the Houston Police Department to a forensic laboratory for testing.
In March 2012, the Houston Police Department (HPD) crime lab identified 6,571 criminal sexual cases that had a sexual assault kit (SAK) that had not been submitted to a crime lab for testing. The research team selected 493 of these cases for study. The study measured forensic testing results and aspects of the follow-up investigation in CODIS-hit cases. A DNA profile was developed from 55 percent of the sample kits, and a CODIS hit was returned for 21 percent of the sample. At the time data collection ended in August 2015, one new criminal filing had occurred from the sample cases. The statute of limitations had expired for 44 percent of the CODIS-hit cases; and the investigator was unable to make contact with the victim in 13 percent of CODIS-hit cases. The victim was unwilling to participate in the follow-up investigation in 13 percent of CODIS-hit cases. A perpetrator who was arrested at the time of the original investigation was identified in 12 percent of the CODIS-hit cases. This project helped shape multiple reforms in the HPD.

Date Published: March 1, 2016