Ingham/Jackson Regional Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (IJR-SAKI)
The purpose of the Ingham/Jackson Regional Sexual Assault Kit Initiative is to end the backlog of untested kits, identify perpetrators through DNA technology, and help provide resolution to survivors of sexual assault. To accomplish this, our team of specially-trained professionals will review each case along with the DNA testing results to determine if the case can be prosecuted. We will work to provide justice, closure, and protection to sexual assault survivors in our communities.
We recognize each kit is more than just physical and forensic evidence of a crime. Each kit represents the sexual assault and accompanying trauma experienced by a sexual assault survivor.
Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) background
In 2009, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy's office discovered 11,341 untested sexual assault kits in a Detroit Police Department property storage facility. Following this discovery, prosecutors and law enforcement professionals learned the problem of untested kits was not unique to Wayne County. A state-wide inventory was conducted. As part of that inventory, Ingham County identified 123 untested kits and Jackson County identified 66 untested kits. These inventoried kits were submitted to the laboratory and the initial testing was completed.
Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office, in partnership with Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, Michigan Department of State Police, and Michigan Department of Attorney General, established the Ingham/Jackson Regional Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Taskforce (IJRSAKI). This taskforce includes a Special Assistant Attorney General, Special Investigators and Victim Advocates.
Why did we have untested kits?
There are many reasons why some kits were not tested in the past. For example, in some cases, the suspect confessed, pled guilty, or was convicted at trial without need for the kit to be tested. In other cases, errors were made such as kits being shelved, lack of complete investigations, or victims were not believed. All of the reasons for not testing these kits were institutional failures.
New legislation now requires every kit provided to law enforcement be tested. Law enforcement now recognizes that testing every kit is not only a best practice but also law. Law enforcement's preservation of the kits provided the opportunity to review and re-investigate each of these cases, and, where appropriate, pursue prosecution.
Will we continue to have untested kits?
In 2015, the Michigan Legislature enacted the "Sexual Assault Kit Evidence Submission Act." This law requires that all law enforcement submit all released sexual assault forensic evidence kits for testing within 14 days of receipt. The Act also requires that the crime lab test the evidence in the kit within 90 days of receipt from a law enforcement agency.
It is important to note that by law, sexual assault victims have the choice on whether or not to release their kit to law enforcement. If they do not want to release their kit to law enforcement for testing, the healthcare provider that collected the evidence kit must store the kit for no less than one year to allow the victim time to consider whether she or he wants the kit submitted for testing.
How do I know if my case is part of this project?
If you were the victim of a sexual assault that was reported between 1999 and 2015 in Ingham County or Jackson County, and you participated in a clinical sexual assault examination where evidence was potentially collected during a physical examination, your case may be a part of this project.
What can I expect if my case is part of this project?
The IJR-SAKI team will keep you informed during the process. You will receive information and access to a wide variety of services with support for you in mind. You will be consulted about whether or not your case can be prosecuted and what your options are for being involved. We recognize that re-opening a case can be upsetting for a survivor. We collectively as a team, pledge to respect and value you as well as your input during the process. Your voice will be heard.
If you have any questions you may contact:
- Patricia T. Ceresa, Special Assistant Attorney General, Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office, (517) 483-6108, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Detective Joseph E. Merritt, Special Investigator, (517) 768-7923, email@example.com
- Detective Annie M. Harrison, Special Investigator, (517) 676-8256, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sara Tunney, Victim Advocate, EVE, Inc. (517) 676-8285, email@example.com
- Karis Tripp, Victim Advocate, AWARE, Inc. (517)783-1638, ext. 136, firstname.lastname@example.org
Resources and Links
- Ingham County Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Pamphlet
- Sexual Assault Kit Submission Act of 2015
- Sexual Assault Kit Testing in Michigan – What Victims Need to Know
- EVE 24 hour Crisis Line 517-372-5572
- Michigan victims of sexual violence are encouraged to call the National Sexual Assault Hotline toll-free, 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). All calls are confidential, and will be answered by a local counseling center affiliated with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).
- Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence
This project is supported by the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative #2015-AK-BX-K015, awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and administered by the Michigan State Police (MSP). Points of view or opinions contained within this document do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the DOJ or MSP.