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Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) GranteeWest Virginia Division of Justice and Community Services

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The West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Services (WVDJCS) received $1.17 million in funding in FY2015 to create a coordinated community response to reduce the number of unsubmitted sexual assault kits (SAKs). With a supplemental $1-million award in FY2016, a state-level initiative helped form a multidisciplinary team to conduct an inventory of unsubmitted SAKs, assign designated personnel to pursue new leads, develop policies and protocols to provide trauma-informed victim notifications, and prosecute cases. West Virginia also created a new electronic data exchange to enable tracking SAKs through the criminal justice system.

In FY2018, WVDJCS received an additional $1-million SAKI grant to pursue the collection of lawfully owed DNA. The funding will go toward developing procedures to ensure consistency in collecting DNA samples from offenders (including offenders at correctional facilities) and also training personnel to ensure DNA collection procedures align with legal and laboratory standards. WVDJCS also received $996,678 in funding in FY2018 to allow for completion of testing previously unsubmitted SAKs across the state, continue cold case sexual assault investigations, and support entry of all criteria cases into the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP).

In FY2020, WVDJCS received an additional $252,860 in SAKI funding to continue work from previous SAKI funding years; this work includes submitting any remaining SAKs for DNA testing and subsequent upload into the Combined DNA Index System. The funding will also be utilized to support Marshall University's testing of secondary evidence for rural law enforcement agencies.

SAKI initially funded WVDJCS in FY2015; since that time, WVDJCS has used their funding to achieve several goals and milestones—including the following:

  • Completed a massive statewide inventory in 2018 of the unsubmitted SAKs in the possession of West Virginia's almost 600 law enforcement jurisdictions in 55 counties across the state
  • Established a state-level law enforcement working group to continue the progression of having a multidisciplinary process for sexual assault investigations
  • Worked with multidisciplinary partners to complete outreach activities across the state, which helped promote victim-centered policies and train local agencies in cold case sexual assault response; training included in-person sessions, webinars, resource packets, and direct engagement.
  • Supported by SAKI, the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services has hosted annual statewide meetings and provided assistance to rural areas in the state to bring local agencies together to build relationships, promote multidisciplinary practices, and to enhance peer connections.
  • Worked with West Virginia State Police and the West Virginia Criminal Investigations Bureau to improve evidence tracking, lawfully owed DNA collection, and digital ViCAP entry processes.

Find more information and resources from the West Virginia Sexual Assault Kit Initiative and the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services.

For more information on the specific SAKI awards for this site, see the table below.

West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Services Funding

Year Amount Purpose Area
FY2015 $1,170,800 Comprehensive Approach to Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits
FY2016 - supplemental award $1,000,000 Comprehensive Approach to Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits
FY2018 $996,678 Comprehensive Approach to Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits
FY2018 $1,000,000 Expansion of DNA Databases to Assist with Sexual Assault Investigations and Prosecutions: Collection of Lawfully Owed DNA from Convicted Offenders and Arrestee DNA Collections
FY2020 $252,860 Comprehensive Approach to Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits

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To learn more about WVDJCS's progress, read the following news and events.

News and Events

Partnership works to fulfill sexual assault kit initiative
Joe Thornton, The Herald-Dispatch, Oct 16, 2016
After receiving $1 million in funding from the federal government in 2015, West Virginia completed an inventory of nearly 1,000 sexual assault kits, began testing them, developed a tracking system, and created a group of skilled individuals to brainstorm how to prevent a SAK backlog in the future. A partnership between SAKI and the District Attorney of New York allows West Virginia to move forward with a victim-centered approach. To learn more, read the full article.

First arrest made under new sexual assault kit program
Alyssa Meisner, TriStateUpdate.com, Sep 28, 2016
After receiving funding to inventory and test its backlogged sexual assault kits, West Virginia’s state crime lab found a DNA match, and law enforcement personnel made their first arrest. To learn more, watch the full video.

West Virginia aims to eliminate untested sexual assault kits and improve evidence collection
Ian McQuinn, Business Wire, Sep 20, 2016
The West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Services recently completed the development of a new online system that tracks sexual assault kits from the time they are shipped to a health care facility to when they are collected and returned for forensic testing. The system also collects information on the quality of the collected SAKs that will be used to identify areas of improvement and training opportunities. The new online tracking system enables the associated crime labs and police departments to track SAKs that are sent to a facility and when. To learn more about West Virginia’s new tracking system, read the full article.

Quick action in Cabell rape kit backlog case is expected
Courtney Hessler, The Herald-Dispatch, Sep 15, 2016
A serial rapist is now behind bars due to the results from testing backlogged rape kits in West Virginia. The perpetrator committed the crime in 2004, but was not implicated in the assault until 2016, after West Virginia received funding from the federal government to test all of its backlogged rape kits in cold storage. To learn more, read the full article.

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Our Mission

Funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative aims to create a coordinated community response that ensures just resolution to sexual assault cases. Through this program, funding is provided to support multidisciplinary community response teams engaged in the comprehensive reform of jurisdictions approaches to sexual assault cases resulting from evidence found in previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits.

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