United States Department of Justice Announces Grants for the Eastern District of Michigan to Address Backlog of Untested Sexual Assault Kits
Michigan agencies will receive almost $5 million in federal grants to address the backlog of untested sexual assault kits and related issues, U.S. AttorneyBarbara L. McQuade announced today.
The Michigan grants were part of a $41 million grant package awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice that was announced by Vice President Biden and Attorney General Loretta Lynch today.
The Michigan agencies receiving grants are the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office ($1,999,109), Michigan State Police ($2,000,000), the Flint Police Department ($1,313,409) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services ($419,000).
“Today’s grants from the U.S. Department of Justice are a direct result of the hard work of Kym Worthy and others to refuse to accept that sexual assault victims would be forgotten while evidence sat on a shelf collecting dust,” U.S. Attorney McQuade said. “These grants will help achieve justice and healing for countless victims of sexual assault in Michigan, and will help identify perpetrators before they can harm more victims.”
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy stated, “We are beyond excited that we received this grant today. We have been working so hard on this issue for years and these funds will allow us to more swiftly deal with our almost 2500 CODIS hits and 487 identified serial rapists. We will immediately step up our investigative and prosecutorial efforts. This is a great day for sexual assault victims in Detroit and Wayne County.”
“The Michigan State Police applied for this grant on behalf of a team that includes the MSP, Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board and Prosecuting Attorney’s Association of Michigan. These funds will allow the team to conduct a statewide inventory of unsubmitted sexual assault evidence kits in law enforcement custody, provide training to law enforcement and prosecutors, and assist with victim services in jurisdictions with a high volume of unsubmitted sexual assault evidence kits. These monies will also be used to fund the enhancement of a sexual assault evidence kit tracking system for victims and the outsourcing of DNA analysis of unsubmitted sexual assault evidence kits found during the inventory process,” stated Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the Michigan State Police. “Receiving this grant award is further proof and recognition of several years of hard work by a collaborative team here in Michigan to give a voice to survivors of sexual assault.”
“The award of this grant is terrific news for the City of Flint and will be a tremendous benefit to the victims in our community,” said Flint Police Chief James W. Tolbert. “The processing of backlogged sexual assault kits has been a top priority for the FPD since my time with the department began almost two years ago. We are extremely thankful of the U.S. Department of Justice for this assistance and look forward to working with our partners in the Michigan State Police, the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office and our victim advocacy groups as we work to improve the service received by Flint’s victims of sexual assault.”
The National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, a competitive grant program administered by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), supports the comprehensive reform of jurisdictions’ approaches to evidence found in sexual assault kits that have never been submitted to a crime laboratory for testing. BJA created the initiative in consultation with the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Office for Victims of Crime, (OVC), and Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The goals of the initiative are to create a coordinated community response that ensures just resolution to these cases whenever possible through a victim-centered approach, as well as to build jurisdictions’ capacity to prevent conditions that lead to high numbers of untested kits.
The initiative is part of the Justice Department’s larger ongoing effort to comprehensively address the problem of sexual assault and to support victims. For example, NIJ maintains a webpage on Sexual Assault Investigations, Sexual Assault Kits: Using Science to Find Solutions, which provides information ranging from improving forensic sexual assault examinations to research findings on untested evidence in sexual assault cases. OVC provides a Sexual Assault Response Team Toolkit, which has over 1.4 million views to date and includes a checklist of recommendations for victim-centered policies and practices in developing a sexual assault response. OVW updated the National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations and released a companion document on Recommendations for Administrators of Prisons, Jails, and Community Confinement Facilities for Adapting the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations, Adults/Adolescents.
A complete listing of today’s federal award recipients can be found at www.bja.gov/SAKI.