#LocalGovMatters – Sexual Assault Kit Initiative

This week on #LocalGovMatters Gwyn is joined by Michelle Viste, Director of the the Department of Justice Office of Crime Victim Services, and Lane Rhuland, Department of Justice Special Counsel.  The three discuss the Department of Justice Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI).

The three start off by explaining what the SAKI project is and what DOJ has been doing with the SAKI project. There is a general misconception that this entire project is just about the rape kits, but it’s actually about supporting victims with trauma informed care, providing victims with support through the entire legal process or outside the process if they choose not to go forward with a complaint.  The project is about helping to define a specific process both for collection of the kits in the ER or doctor’s office, but also in how the kits are collected and submitted to the state crime lab. Lane highlights that Wisconsin police have had 100% voluntary submissions of kits and evidence and have not had to be compelled to submit as they have had to do in other states.

Both Lane and Michelle explain where some of the confusion has come in with stories about rape kits not being tested, and what they like to refer to as the “CSI effect.” Most kits can take 3 months or more for the testing to be done (More information on the testing process.)  Michelle explains what the needs are for the crime lab to test all the evidence.

Finally, the three wrap up the podcast by talking about how kits in one case can impact another case either in Wisconsin, or somewhere else in the United States. Michelle and Lane explain what the survivor notification system looks like now, and what they would like to see in the future.

Lane ends the podcast by asking that media interested in the rape kits, SAKI, and talking with victims contact DOJ for assistance.  There have been instances of media cold calling survivors and what the media may not realize is this can re-victimizes the individual again.

Current SAKI Data and Results

As always – thank you to Wisconsin Counties Association and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities for their partnership on the #LocalGovMatters podcast. Thank you also to Jackie Johnson for making the podcast sound great each week.

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