AG: Progress Made in Hawai‘i Sex Assault Kit Backlog
Attorney General Russell Suzuki today recognized the efforts and accomplishments of the Hawaiʻi Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Multi-Disciplinary Team. The team, which is made up of Hawaiʻi’s law enforcement, prosecutorial and victim advocacy agencies, continues efforts to serve sexual assault survivors.
In March 2018, members of the HI-SAKI MDT team were invited to speak at the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Grantee meeting in Arlington, Virginia, to showcase Hawaiʻi’s progress in the testing of sexual assault kits.
The HI-SAKI MDT recently completed the submission of the 1,513 previously untested sexual assault kits to accredited, approved forensic laboratories for DNA testing. Those kits had been collected statewide prior to July 1, 2016, and were determined to require testing. Going forward, the test results are being obtained and evaluated, eligible DNA profiles are being uploaded to the federal DNA database, and appropriate follow up measures are being taken by law enforcement.
According to a 2016 report, there were only 15 of 166 sex assault kits on Maui were tested. That report included inventory from 1999 to June 30 of 2016. The Department of the Attorney General applied for and received a FY 2016 National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative grant from the US Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance. The 3-year, $2 million grant is being used to support the efforts of the Hawaiʻi Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Team.
Information is available through the Project Mālama Kākou: Hawaiʻi’s Solution for Sexual Assault Evidence Kits publication, which documents the state’s efforts to test previously untested sexual assault kits and to test future sexual assault kits.
Attorney General Suzuki said, “The HI-SAKI team has done a great job in getting the previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits tested. This is a crucial step in the ongoing process to address the devastating impact sexual violence has on victims and the community as a whole.”
“We are proud to be part of this multi-disciplinary team and its efforts to serve sexual assault survivors,” said Adrianna Ramelli, Executive Director of Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children, The Sex Abuse Treatment Center. “The accomplishment of the Hawai‘i Sexual Assault Kit Initiative is attributed to the collaboration of team members who developed a comprehensive, victim-centered approach to address the untested sexual assault kits.”
Representative Linda Ichiyama added, “I strongly support the work of the SAKI team and their efforts to bring justice and healing to sexual assault survivors. The more rape kits that we test, the more opportunities we will have to solve cold cases and take predators off our streets.”
The HI-SAKI MDT is made up of representatives from: Department of the Attorney General; Honolulu Police Department; Hawai‘i Police Department; Maui Police Department; Kaua‘i Police Department; Department of the Prosecuting Attorney, City and County of Honolulu; Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, Hawai‘i County; Department of the Prosecuting Attorney, Maui County; Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, Kaua‘i County; Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children, The Sex Abuse Treatment Center; Child and Family Service, Maui Sexual Assault Center; YWCA of Hawai‘i Island, Sexual Assault Support Services; and YWCA of Kaua‘i, Sexual Assault Treatment Program.