The City of Austin received a 3-year award from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to participate in a multidisciplinary collaboration to respond to untested sexual assault kits. The city enlisted the support and expertise of the Institute of Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault to serve as the research partner.

This project addresses the backlog of untested sexual assault kits in the City of Austin, as well as the underlying conditions that led to the development of a backlog. With prior funding and support from the New York District Attorney’s Office and the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s technical assistance providers, the city submitted previously untested sexual assault kits for forensic analysis. As forensic results return, the bureau’s funding will support a coordinated effort among multidisciplinary partners to address local gaps in service. Sexual assault responders, including advocates, victim service counselors, police, and prosecutors, will respond to the needs of victims as cases are worked and victims are engaged throughout the criminal justice process.

The project aims to: 1) create a coordinated community response that ensures just resolution to sexual assault cases, whenever possible, through a comprehensive, victim-centered approach, and 2) build Austin’s capacity to prevent the development of conditions that lead to high numbers of unsubmitted SAKs in the future.

As the research partner, IDVSA will:

  1. In cooperation with the SAKI SARRT, develop a comprehensive victim notification plan and SAKI implementation plan
  2. Lead the SAKI SARRT in structuring and institutionalizing systems, policies and protocols
  3. to address SAK backlogs and to prevent reoccurrence
  4. Engage in multi-disciplinary policy development
  5. Work directly with the SAKI Site Coordinator to manage the workgroup agenda and implementation plan
  6. Conduct research on outcomes in local SAKI and DANY cases
  7. Assist with the creation of community defined performance metrics

Mixed methods may include focus groups, interviews, surveys, and analysis of secondary data.

This project was supported by Grant No. 2017-AK-BX-0015 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the 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. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.