Criminal Justice Council Receives Award to Address Untested Rape Kits

Date Posted: Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015
Categories:  Criminal Justice Council News

WILMINGTON, Del. – The Delaware Criminal Justice Council is pleased to announce the agency has been awarded a federal grant through the Bureau of Justice Assistance * (BJA) for the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) in the amount of $1,168,662.00.

The SAKI Initiative, was made available through a competitive grant program administered by 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.

The SAKI project will be strategically implemented in the State, per the conditions laid out by the grant requirements, and the specific benchmarks approved by BJA.

“In addition to the funding that will help test some of the highest priority sexual assault kits, this award will allow the Criminal Justice Council to convene a multidisciplinary team of experts to develop strategies and protocols to ensure that this issue is addressed in a meaningful way moving forward,” said Christian Kervick, Executive Director of The Criminal Justice Council.  “These funds will certainly go to improving the Criminal Justice System and allowing for survivors of sexual assault to begin their process of healing” Kervick added.

The first phase of this project requires a comprehensive inventory of all unsubmitted sexual assault kits in storage to determine the number of kits, identify the kits should take priority and those that may be eligible/qualify for testing. At this point, we do not know how many kits will qualify for testing. The goal of this project is to assist police departments that may have kits in storage that were never ordered for testing.

In addition to the inventory and testing; the CJC will create a Multi-Disciplinary Group that will assist in the development of a victim-centered comprehensive strategy to improve Delaware’s response to sexual assault.

The CJC believed to be in a strong position in submitting our application to address a statewide issue, in large part this was due to the collaborative relationship we have with various agencies; and due to the services already established by the police based advocates in Delaware. The police-based victims’ advocates employ a trauma-informed, victim-centered approach with their work to all victims of violent crimes, statewide. They are trained in providing sensitive information to victims as part of any investigation. That is a critical piece of the work of this project.

It should be noted that victims have a choice whether to participate in the criminal justice process. Not all victims want to move forward with investigations and prosecutions, for a variety of reasons. For that reason, we will continue to be very mindful of developing of victim-centered practices if the State has the ability to test unsubmitted kits.

In the months of researching and developing strategies to address this issue, the CJC pulled from the expertise of our local and national partners. Law enforcement officers and police-based victims’ assistants, representing the Delaware State Police, the New Castle County Police, and Wilmington Police Department were incredibly helpful by providing in-put in the development of the application. The CJC also worked with staff from the Delaware Department of Justice and the Division of Forensic Science, the Victims’ Compensation Assistance Program, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Coordinators, and rape crisis advocates.

No one can do this work alone. The Criminal Justice Council would like to acknowledge the victims, survivors and our professional partners (mentioned above) who have influenced our work. We also want to thank the Delaware Police Chiefs Council for their support in this initiative.

The CJC would also like to make sure everyone is aware of the supportive resources for victims and survivors of sexual violence:

24/7 Rape Crisis Hotlines in Delaware:

New Castle County: The YWCA of Delaware’s Sexual Assault Response Center (SARC): 800-773-8570

Kent & Sussex County: ContactLifeline’s Rape Crisis Line: 800-262-9800

Support for victims/survivors on campus of Colleges/Universities:

UD Sexual Offense Support (SOS) Program: 302-831-2226

DSU’s Rape Crisis line: 302-420-5751

Counseling Services Specializing in Sexual Assault:

Survivors of Abuse in Recovery, Inc. (SOAR): Offers individual and group therapy for victims and survivors Statewide. Please contact the offices at the numbers provided:

New Castle County (302) 655-9049

Kent County: (302) 422-3811

Sussex County: (302) 645-4903

Police Based Victims Services:

Delaware State Police/Delaware Victims Center for other information or referrals: 1-800-VICTIM-1

Wilmington PD Victim Services 302-576-3622

New Castle County Police Victim Services 302-395-8135

Newark Police Victim Services 302-366-7110

Dover Police Victims Services: 302-736-7134

For more information about this project, please contact Maureen Monagle at the Criminal Justice Council.

*The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office

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