At Joyful Heart, we are a proud partner in the effort to create funding opportunities, like the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI), for jurisdictions seeking to address their untested rape kit backlogs. For four years, we have engaged with members of Congress to secure funding for SAKI to support the work being done across the country.
Now in its fourth year, the SAKI grant provides communities with much-needed resources to test backlogged kits, create multidisciplinary teams to investigate and prosecute cases connected to the backlog, and re-engage survivors with the criminal justice system through support services. These focused resources are helping law enforcement facilitate community engagement and relationship building among stakeholders, repairing trust in the criminal justice system and demonstrating a commitment to transform the response to sexual assault.
Recently, the federal government awarded over $42 million to 32 jurisdictions across the country.
As of March 2018, more than 46,000 kits have been inventoried and almost 38,000 kits have been sent for testing as a result of SAKI funding. As jurisdictions test kits, reopen cases, and prosecute offenders, continued federal funding is essential. Joyful Heart will keep pressing for sustained funding to apprehend rapists and help survivors find a path to justice and healing.
States must also provide funding to eliminate the backlog and support survivors. Contact your state legislators and urge them to fund rape kit reforms to reshape the handling of rape kits and the response to survivors.