SAKI Inventory Phases
In October 2017, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office was awarded a $3 million grant to implement their plan to address the accumulated unsubmitted sexual assault kits (SAKs) around the state. The grant funder, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), required the Attorney General’s Office to conduct a detailed inventory of every sexual assault kit (SAK) in the possession of local law enforcement and hospitals across the state. The Attorney General’s WA SAKI team created a three-phase plan:
- Phase 1 - Unsubmitted sexual assault kits: In June 2018, the SAKI Inventory data requirements were sent out to 208 law enforcement agencies in Washington (excluding Federal & Tribal agencies). We received inventory data from 208 law enforcement agencies indicating there were approximately 6,700 unsubmitted sexual assault kits around the state. This phase is complete.
- Phase 2 – Anonymous/unreported sexual assault kits: The WA SAKI team is working with the Washington State Hospital Association to inventory all anonymous/unreported sexual assault kits being held at hospitals and medical clinics. Anonymous/unreported sexual assault kits will not be tested because the victim has not consented to testing. This phase is complete.
- Phase 3 – Partially tested sexual assault kits: The WA SAKI Team must review laboratory reports for approximately 8,000 previously tested kits to determine whether or not they meet the definition of a partially tested sexual assault kit. These lab reports are paper files housed at various crime labs as well as in the State Records Center in Olympia. This phase is complete.
The Attorney General’s Office began this project in June of 2018 and currently has completed all of the phases.
Collecting this inventory and the associated data was no small effort as information was required from each and every kit, along with an examination of accompanying documentation, such as case files. Local law enforcement agencies and hospitals put in a tremendous amount of time and effort collecting and reporting this information to the Attorney General’s Office.
There are a variety of reasons why kits were never submitted for testing, including:
- The case was resolved without the need to test the evidence from the sexual assault kit.
- The victim chose not to participate in the criminal justice process.
- The suspect was identified through other means and the test was not needed for identification purposes.
The State of Washington has taken action to ensure that all kits will be tested. Under the leadership of Attorney General Bob Ferguson, the Attorney General’s Office coordinated and leads a multidisciplinary response involving law enforcement, prosecutors, hospitals, victim advocates and crime lab analysts. These professionals have developed a protocol for categorizing the unsubmitted sexual assault kits and have a plan in place to test the backlog of sexual assault kits in the state.
For more information on the inventory process, please visit the Attorney General's Inventory page.