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Toolkit: Tackling Sexual Assault Kit Backlogs and Improving Investigations/Prosecution

Anti-Human Trafficking Training for Law Enforcement and State Prosecutors

This 3-day training course is designed for Federally Funded Human Trafficking Task Force members, law enforcement officers, investigators, state prosecutors, and intelligence analysts. Law Enforcement and Prosecutors train together using the Enhanced Collaborative Model and structured case planning to investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases. This training is based on a trauma-informed and victim-centered investigation philosophy, and a structured case planning approach that is proactive and multi-disciplinary centered. This comprehensive anti-human trafficking training program is based on nationally successful curriculum designed and delivered by subject matter experts in their fields, utilizing vetted curricula, complex case studies, learning checks throughout the training, and supported with participant guides. This course also includes training on mandatory reporting required of task forces.

Demandforum.net: Resources for the Prevention of Prostitution and Sex Trafficking

Demandforum.net is a comprehensive online resource for people interested in preventing sex trafficking and prostitution. Here you'll find information on initiatives in more than 1,190 communities in the U.S. aimed at deterring or apprehending men who buy sex. The site also includes details about tactics useful for starting, improving, and sustaining practices designed to combat demand.

Human Trafficking Task Force E-Guide

Developed in partnership by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) and Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), this Guide is a resource to support established task forces and provide guidance to agencies that are forming task forces. Its purpose is to assist in the development and day to day operations of an anti-human trafficking task force and to provide fundamental guidance for effective task force operations.

Prosecuting Human Trafficking Cases: Lessons Learned and Promising Practices

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and the reauthorizations of 2003 and 2005, along with state legislations have become important tools in the fight against human trafficking. In an effort to increase the understanding of prosecutors’ ability to use the tools available to prosecute and convict traffickers while balancing the needs of trafficked persons, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) awarded a grant in the fall of 2006 to ICF International (formerly known as Caliber Associates, an ICF Consulting Company) and subcontractor the American Prosecutors Research Institute (APRI), to conduct a study that examined the effects of existing federal and state legislation from the perspective of the prosecution and identified critical challenges and barriers to successful prosecution of cases.

Sexual Assault Response Teams (SART) Toolkit

Sexual violence affects many aspects of a victim's life—including safety and health, family and work situations, and finances—and often leads to perplexing legal questions. To receive basic assistance, victims often must navigate a complicated maze of governmental and community agencies. SARTs, or sexual assault response teams, help victims through the maze. The SART Toolkit is a resource both for communities considering a SART response and communities that already have a coordinated response but want to make it better. Use it. Share it. Make it your own.

Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center (OVC TTAC)

OVC TTAC is the gateway to current training and technical assistance for victim service providers and allied professionals who serve crime victims. OVC TTAC draws on the expertise of a network of consultants and seasoned victim service professionals with first-hand experience in designing and delivering customized responses to satisfy a variety of training and technical assistance needs. From this comprehensive database of experts, we can provide developmental support, mentoring, and facilitation to assist you in your program design and implementation, strategic planning, program management, evaluation, quality improvement, collaboration, and community coordination.

Creating a Plan to Test a Large Number of Sexual Assault Kits

Many jurisdictions across the country are looking at the issue of sexual assault evidence that has not been submitted to a crime lab for testing. As part of an NIJ-supported project, the Wayne County (Detroit), Mich., Prosecutor's Office formed a multidisciplinary team to address the issue. On the team were practitioners who deal with sexual assaults every day — police officers, crime lab analysts, prosecutors and victim advocates — as well as social science researchers from Michigan State University (MSU). The MSU researchers were led by Rebecca Campbell, Ph.D., a nationally recognized expert on sexual assault. Dr. Campbell's work with the Detroit multidisciplinary team followed an "action-research" model. First, the team worked collaboratively to understand the scope of the issue: How many sexual assault kits (SAKs) in police custody had never been sent to a crime lab for testing, and how and why did the problem develop? Then, the team identified effective, sustainable responses. One such response was developing a plan for testing a large number of previously untested kits. Here are 14 lessons that the team learned in the Detroit project.

Victim Assistance Training Online

A Web-based basic victim advocacy training program that offers victim service providers and allied professionals the opportunity to acquire the basic skills and knowledge they need to better assist victims of crime.

Best Practices: Sexual Assault Investigations-Policy Forum

This forum focuses on emerging techniques and developments associated with evidence collection training; evidence analysis utilizing Y-STR capabilities; and victim-centric care approaches (e.g., understanding the neurobiology of the victim in sexual assault). Presentations in this forum discuss development of best practices for resolving issues related to sexual assault and showcase emerging technologies associated with the collection and analysis of sexual assault evidence. The forum presenters include researchers, practitioners, and stakeholders who are thoroughly involved in the development and implementation of policies that address these topics.

Adult Sexual Assault: A Trauma Informed Approach (In-Service/Roll Call Training Video)

This training video was designed so that it can be used in a brief in-service training or two short training sessions as part of roll call or shift change briefings at your agency. The training provides an overview of how trauma impacts victims and how law enforcement first responders can implement a trauma informed response and approach to sexual assault survivors. The training video features Dr. Rebecca Campbell, Chief Tom Tremblay (Ret.) and law enforcement professionals from across Michigan. The video is available on YouTube as a training resource for law enforcement and allied professionals

Polyvictimization in Later Life

Polyvictimization in Later Life is a 6-hour web-based training presented in five modules. The purpose of the training is to strengthen awareness of polyvictimization in later life and to provide knowledge and skills of professionals to address the needs of victims. The training addresses the context of polyvictimization; victims and perpetrators of polyvictimization; best practices to work with older adults affected by polyvictimization using trauma-informed, ethical, and culturally appropriate practices; and the latest research and best practices to serve this population.

DNA in Sexual Assault Cases: The Role of Law Enforcement, SAFE/SANE Nurses, and Victim Advocates

This training is intended for law enforcement officers, SAFE/SANE medical personnel, and victim advocates to help strengthen collaboration in a team response, from the initial crime scene to prosecution of sexual assault cases. During the training participants will identify and collect DNA evidence at a simulated crime scene.

Enforcing Victims' Rights

This 2-day training provides a comprehensive overview of crime victims’ rights and the advocate’s role in enforcing those rights. In this interactive training you will analyze a hypothetical case scenario and actively explore how victims’ rights can be exercised during pretrial proceedings, during trial, and in relation to sentencing, parole, and other posttrial proceedings. Participants will develop an individual action plan for applying the new information to their own organizations so that victims will better understand their legal rights and the actions they can take to enforce those rights.

SANE Program Development and Operation Guide

This updated, web-based Guide serves as a practical, research-based, trauma-informed source for developing new SANE programs and enhancing and sustaining existing programs across the country.

Sexual Assault Advocate/Counselor Training

With a focus on crisis intervention rather than long-term counseling, this 2.5 day training will deepen your understanding of sexual assault and the major roles of an advocate/counselor. This training is designed primarily for sexual assault advocates/counselors who are volunteers or staff at rape crisis centers. Others who may benefit include nurses, physicians, law enforcement officers, and professional counselors who do not have specific sexual assault training. This updated training includes modules on campus sexual assault, male sexual assault, and neurobiology of trauma and assault. Through case studies, role-playing, and other interactive exercises, you will build the basic skills necessary to provide competent, effective crisis intervention services to sexual assault victims/survivors effectively and sensitively.


I AM EVIDENCE exposes the alarming number of untested rape kits in the United States through a character–driven narrative, bringing much needed attention to the disturbing pattern of how the criminal justice system has historically treated sexual assault survivors. Why is there a rape kit backlog? What can we do to fix the problem? This film explores these questions through survivors’ experiences as they trace the fates of their kits and re-engage in the criminal justice process. I AM EVIDENCE illuminates how the system has impeded justice while also highlighting those who are leading the charge to work through the backlog and pursue long-awaited justice in these cases. In this film, we seek to send a clear message to survivors that they matter, that we as a nation will do everything possible to bring them a path to healing and justice, and that their perpetrators will be held accountable for their crimes.

Victim Services Strategic Planning Toolkit

The Strategic Planning Toolkit is intended to function as a guide for you to use throughout the strategic planning process. The Toolkit offers guidelines you can follow and tools and resources for you to draw on at every step. The Toolkit is organized to help you both learn about the planning process and use the process. It is broken into six sections that correspond to the six steps in strategic planning. The Toolkit can benefit any victim services organization - at the state or local level - that wants to assess where it wants to go in the future.

Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI)

The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) provides funding through a competitive grant program to support the jurisdictional reform of approaches to sexual assault cases resulting from evidence found in sexual assault kits (SAKs) that have never been submitted to a crime laboratory. SAKI is administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and aims to create a coordinated community response that ensures just resolution to sexual assault cases through (1) a comprehensive and victim-centered approach, (2) jurisdictional capacity building to prevent high numbers of unsubmitted SAKs in the future, and (3) supporting the investigation and prosecution of cases for which SAKs were previously unsubmitted.

Analysis of Cuyahoga County’s Procedures for Alleviating the Backlog of Sexual Assault Kits

This purpose of this brief is to describe the data, sampling methods, and data limitations of the SAK Pilot Research Project. For more information about the SAK Task Force and its process, see “The Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force: Describing the Process of Testing, Investigating, and Prosecuting Unsubmitted SAKs” and “The Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kits (SAK) Pilot Research Project: Data and Methodology.” The findings from this project are presented in a series of brief reports written by the research team at the Begun Center.

Sexual Assault Incident Reports: Investigative Strategies

The following guidelines and interview strategies are based upon national best practices regarding sexual assault incident investigations and were developed in collaboration with local, state, and federal law enforcement, prosecutors, advocates, medical, and forensic professionals. The goal of these guidelines is to support officers and departments in preparing sexual assault cases for successful prosecution through detailed case documentation and thorough investigations.

Understanding DNA Testing and Reporting: Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits

Technological advances in DNA testing and leveraging the use of database searches in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) have, in part, driven testing of cold-case evidence and unsubmitted sexual assault kits, known as SAKs. If there is documentation, such as a police report, that a crime occurred, any foreign DNA obtained from evidence may be valuable to help identify a perpetrator and link with other crimes through a database search. Through the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI), funding opportunities and support are available to include testing all unsubmitted SAKs for DNA.

Prioritizing Cold Case CODIS Hit Follow-up: Strategies for Sexual Assault Investigators

The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) TTA Team developed this guidance document to provide information on the appropriate actions to take when sexual assault investigators receive a CODIS hit notification—when a suspect has been identified in a cold case, either through a DNA match or other investigative means. However, investigators should not rely on these factors alone when making decisions. New information may be revealed and circumstances involving the suspect(s) may change during an investigation, thus requiring an updated evaluation/ assessment and follow-up strategy in the case.

Utilizing CODIS for Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits

One of the main goals of the testing of unsubmitted sexual assault kits (SAKs) is to enter foreign DNA profiles into the Combined DNA Index Syste m (CODIS) in an attempt to identify the potential perpetrator (s). Maximizing the use of CODIS has been found to have other advantages, such as linking crimes together, helping refute claims, identifying criminal patterns, and decreasing concerns regarding public safety.

Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kit Processing: Five Objectives Toward Forming a Positive Relationship with a Private Vendor Laboratory

Outsourcing DNA testing for projects that require an immediate surge in resources is a great way to use private partners with minimal impact to current crime laboratory initiatives. Larger, private DNA outsourcing laboratories have proven abilities for scaling up production, performing high-throughput testing, and bringing online technology adoptions to continuously improve processes. However, even for laboratories with high-volume experience, the current SAK grant timelines of 2 to 3 years can be demanding. The following five objectives are a guide toward establishing positive partnerships with vendor laboratories for the submission and testing of SAKs.

Sample Policy for Cold Case Victim Notification

This resource is a sample policy for notifying victims of cold cases of any changes in case status.

Key Components of Building a Successful Victim Notification Protocol

The aim of this report is to present findings from original action research conducted about the process of developing and implementing the Houston Police Department (HPD) Protocols. Authors also provide recommendations for other jurisdictions that want to undertake or are undergoing similar assessments of their victim notification protocols related to cases with SAKs that sat untested in police property rooms.

The Detroit Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Action Research Project Final Report

The results of this project were influential in creating a number of significant changes in policy and practice, including, but not limited to: a policy change in the local police department to submit all SAKs for forensic testing; training for police and other practitioners on victim-centered, trauma-informed services and offender-focused investigations; securing $4 million from the state Attorney General’s Office to test as many remaining Detroit SAKs as possible; and the passage of new state-wide legislation requiring all law enforcement agencies in the state of Michigan to submit SAKs for testing (if released for testing by the rape victim) (the Sexual Assault Kit Evidence Submission Act (PA 227)).

New York City’s Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Project: Lessons Learned

The National Center for Victims of Crime is pleased to provide the slides used in our February 13, 2013 Webinar, “New York City’s Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Project: Lessons Learned.”

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