The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office joined the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Grantees Meeting in Washington, D.C., to identify and share best practices in sexual assault cases and rape kit testing. The conference convenes representatives of all of the jurisdictions awarded funding under the $80 million initiatives of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. Yesterday, District Attorney Vance delivered a keynote address highlighting developments in rape kit reform since the September 2015 announcement of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s $38 million initiative to test more than 56,000 rape kits in 32 jurisdictions across 20 states.
“Though testing under my Office’s initiative has only just begun, we are already seeing the results that we expected: previously untested kits corresponding to hundreds of DNA profiles in the national DNA databank,” said District Attorney Vance. “Of the 494 DNA profiles uploaded to the national DNA databank thus far, nearly 70% have resulted in a DNA hit that will identify an unknown perpetrator, link crime scene evidence, or confirm a conviction.
“Our initial results prove that testing backlogged rape kits helps solve crimes across state lines: the DNA hits linked offenders and crime scenes in at least 15 different states. Furthermore, the testing of backlogged rape kits identifies serial rapists, as more than three-quarters of the DNA hits were linked to another sexual assault case, or to the DNA profile of a convicted rapist.
“While preliminary, these are exactly the type of results we hoped to see when we funded this initiative. I look forward to continuing our partnership with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, as we not only test thousands of rape kits, but establish best practices and reforms to prevent future rape kit backlogs.”
So far, under the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s initiative:
- Nearly 7,000 rape kits have been sent for testing,
- With 494 DNA profiles uploaded to CODIS,
- Resulting in 336 DNA “hits” identifying perpetrators, connecting crime scene evidence, or confirming convictions,
- Linking to offenders and crimes scenes in at least 15 states.
District Attorney Vance also highlighted reforms to rape kit testing protocols, including the use of victim-centered approaches to notification procedures recommended by a Joyful Heart Foundation report funded by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, entitled “Navigating Notification: A Guide to Re-engaging Sexual Assault Survivors Affected by the Untested Rape Kit Backlog.”