FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The Department of Public Safety is addressing the backlog of unsubmitted, untested sexual assault kits from across the State. A report has been put out by the Department of Public Safety that highlights significant progress that has been made in addressing the backlog of testing sexual assault kits from police agencies across the state.
Jonathon Taylor is the Communications Director for DPS and he explains why this report has been created.
"In 2017, the legislature passed Senate Bill 55 and it required the state crime lab to inventory all previously unsubmitted, untested sexual assault kits. So we did so, and we submitted this report to the legislature in November 2017 outlining how many kits had previously not been submitted to the crime lab for testing from each police department. The crime lab was also moving forward with projects to try and figure out how we could work though and test those kits," he said.
Taylor says as of this year, that report will be updated and available to the public annually. According to DPS in 2017 there were 2,979 untested, unsubmitted victim kits. That number now sits at 2,568, just one year later. Taylor says DPS will use funding from a federal grant, as well as money allotted by the legislature to send the kits to private labs for testing to further ensure justice.
"Ultimately, this is about victims and it is about making sure that victims are able to get justice. We think that testing these kits, and working through them, and making that information as transparent as possible is really appropriate and is a way for us to make sure that we are meeting those standards and providing that justice for victims," he said.
Taylor says processing these kits could lead to solving cold cases, establishing patterns in cases, and even bringing new indictments.
The Department of Public Safety has a new website to view and track the progress of testing. The website is www.DPS.ALASKA.GOV/SAKS.