The 400 Project Leads to Multiple Charges Against Detroit Man

During a 2010 audit of the Detroit crime lab, which was shut down in 2008 due to testing irregularities, officials discovered approximately 11,000 untested rape kits in Detroit storage facilities. Following the discovery, a collaborative team of law enforcement officials, prosecutors, researchers and victim advocates came together to work toward eliminating the backlog.

With a grant from the federal government’s Office on Violence Against Women, the team created the “400 Project” to test 400 randomly selected kits from the backlog in order to determine the nature of the evidence and what kinds of cases are connected to the backlog. Among the 400 tested kits was a fourteen-year-old kit containing DNA evidence linking Antonio Jackson, now 38 years old, to the 1997 home invasion and rape of a woman at gunpoint. It is alleged that Jackson broke into the victim’s home at 3:50 a.m. on February 17, 1997, held her at gunpoint and raped her while her children slept in the same bed. He now faces charges of first degree criminal sexual conduct and home invasion and felony firearm charges.

The 400 Project is the first phase in a multi-phase approach to eliminating Detroit’s backlog. Detroit is one of two cities participating in a grant funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to study, plan and implement rape kit reform. Joyful Heart is a collaborative partner in this effort. Out of the project, the NIJ hopes to create a national standard for rape kit testing. As expressed by John Collins, Director of the Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division:

This is such an emerging problem that has revealed itself on the national level. There’s not a national standard on how you make these decisions of what you test and in what order. In some extent, it’s like building the plane as you fly it.

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