Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI)

DNA evidence has become a critical factor in achieving justice for survivors of sexual violence, but there are still challenges in the way evidence is collected, stored, tracked, and used to hold perpetrators accountable. The overwhelming backlog of DNA evidence is currently one of the biggest obstacles to prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence.

RAINN has worked for years to support and maximize the use of DNA evidence to bring justice to survivors. We are part of a team of national experts selected by the Justice Department to provide technical assistance and support to cities and states around the country that receive Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grants.

SAKI Grants

SAKI provides funding through a competitive grant program to support the jurisdictional reform of how to approach sexual assault cases involving DNA from sexual assault kits, or “rape kits,” submitted to a crime laboratory. SAKI is administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. It aims to create a coordinated community response that ensures justice is served in sexual assault cases. To accomplish this goal, SAKI employs a three-pronged approach:

  • Promoting a comprehensive and victim-centered strategy
  • Building the jurisdictional capacity to prevent high numbers of previously unsubmitted, untested sexual assault kits in the future
  • Supporting the investigation and prosecution of cases for which SAKs were previously submitted

In addition to RAINN, SAKI Training and Technical Assistance Team Partners Include:

  • RTI International
  • AEquitas
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
  • Dr. Rebecca Campbell, Michigan State University
  • Sgt. Jim Markey (Phoenix PD, retired)
  • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE)-SART Resource Service
  • Joyful Heart Foundation

To learn more about SAKI’s work and achievements, and for current and anticipated funding opportunities, visit the SAKI website.

Other Federal and State Programs that Support Rape Kit Accountability

SAKI funds are complementary to additional resources provided on the state and federal level that support work to end and prevent rape kit backlogs. Below are three such programs:

DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Program

Funded under authority established by the Debbie Smith Act, the goals of this program, administered by the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ), are to assist eligible states and units of local government to:

  • Process, record, screen, and analyze forensic DNA or DNA database samples
  • Increase the capacity of public forensic DNA and DNA database laboratories to process more DNA samples, thereby helping to reduce the number of forensic DNA and DNA database samples awaiting analysis

Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Inventory, Tracking, and Reporting Program Grant Program (SAFE ITR)

Funded under authority from the SAFER Act, NIJ funds states, local governments, and tribal governments to implement an evidence management program to inventory, track, and report untested and unsubmitted sexual assault kits. In Fiscal Year 2017, NIJ awarded $5.2 million in SAFE ITR funding to 11 jurisdictions across the nation.

The NIJ-FBI Sexual Assault Kit Partnership BI/NIJ Partnership

NIJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) laboratory have formed a partnership to help address unsubmitted or unanalyzed sexual assault kits. Each month, the FBI, acting as a centralized testing laboratory for rape kits, will process and test a limited number of previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits (as submitted by local law enforcement on a rolling basis).