Following the SAFER ACT: Reactions from Natasha’s Justice Project

njp-us capitolWhile national policies and procedures to determine exact numbers of untested rape kits may not yet exist, the upcoming year brings hope that this will be a problem of the past.

Natasha’s Justice Project (NJP) is eagerly watching Representative Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) work together to introduce the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry or SAFER Act.  The SAFER Act would use already existing federal funding to help law enforcement officials process untested, backlogged rape kits.

In July 2012, Rep. Poe read Natasha’s story on the House of Representatives floor. NJP has proudly supported Rep. Poe on bipartisan platforms such as victim’s advocacy and of course, the SAFER Act and looks forward to continued endorsements.

Photo courtesy of jcolman via flickr.com

Backlog Elimination Project-RFP Extension Deadline

scales of justiceIn November 2012, Natasha’s Justice Project (NJP) publicly released a Request for Proposal (RFP) for its Backlog Elimination Project. The Backlog Elimination Project is a pilot project which ultimately aims to eliminate untested Sexual Offense Evidence Collection (SOEC) kits, also known as rape kits, within a chosen jurisdiction.

According to the National Institute of Justice, there is an estimated 400,000 untested kits across the United States. Through the pilot project, NJP hopes to reduce this number while significantly impacting the methodology of rape kit processing. Eliminating a jurisdiction’s backlog means that NJP has the opportunity to create a go-to source for other municipalities who would like to eliminate their backlog. Not only will the Backlog Elimination Project develop standard practices and procedures, it will also aid law enforcement officials with ongoing investigations while leading to the prosecution of previously unsolved sexual crimes within and beyond the selected jurisdiction(s).

Originally, all jurisdictions or municipalities interested in applying for the RFP were asked to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) no later than December 1, 2012, with all completed RFP applications submitted no later than December 31, 2012. However, due to overwhelming interest, the Pilot Project Committee voted to extend both deadlines in order to fairly select the jurisdiction which will best fit the project’s undertaking. The new deadline for all LOI’s is January 31, 2013 with completed RFP applications submitted no later than February 28, 2013.

Once all applications are received by the Pilot Project Committee, a complete and thorough review will take place, in order to select a jurisdiction which best fulfills the grant requirements. The Pilot Project Committee consists of professionals experienced in the fields of law enforcement, research, victim advocacy, journalism, legal and related charitable organizations, as well as public and private DNA laboratory experts. NJP recruited qualified personnel to sit on the Committee in order to effectively create and carry out the methodology necessary to clear a backlog.

NJP is looking forward to collaborating with a jurisdiction which is ready to tackle this problem and bring justice to anyone and everyone who has been affected by sexual assault. The Backlog Elimination Project is NJP’s first (but certainly not last!) step towards exposing and eliminating the nationwide rape kit backlog.

Photo courtesy of vaxZine via flickr.com

Natasha Alexenko Exposes the Rape Kit Backlog on The Takeaway

“Rape kits are being shelved and left unprocessed for years…in the worst case scenarios kits are being destroyed by police.” reports Kristen Meinzer. Many thanks to The Takeaway for also featuring the amazingly brave Helena Lazaro to discuss her case and her difficult journey to getting her kit processed.

This article is a great introductory piece for those who are foreign to the issue of the rape kit backlog and the Natasha’s Justice Project mission of exposing and eliminating the backlog.

Natasha Alexenko Exposes the Rape Kit Backlog on The Takeaway

“Rape kits are being shelved and left unprocessed for years…in the worst case scenarios kits are being destroyed by police.” reports Kristen Meinzer. Many thanks to The Takeaway for also featuring the amazingly brave Helena Lazaro to discuss her case and her difficult journey to getting her kit processed.

This article is a great introductory piece for those who are foreign to the issue of the rape kit backlog and the Natasha’s Justice Project mission of exposing and eliminating the backlog.