Wisconsin: AG Kaul Provides Update on Sexual Assault Kit Initiative and Tracking System

The following news release is from the Wisconsin Department of Justice

MADISON, WISCONSIN–April 14, 2021–Attorney General Josh Kaul today announced updates detailing Wisconsin’s progress in obtaining justice for survivors of sexual assault and the prosecution of perpetrators. The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) has procured software in order to launch a sexual assault kit tracking system, accessible to survivors, by the end of the year, and is currently conducting a census of sexual assault kits in the state. Additional data has been updated and added to wisaki.doj.wi.gov. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“The steps we’re announcing will strengthen Wisconsin’s response to sexual assault,” said Attorney General Kaul. “The kit tracking system will make it easier for survivors to get information and help prevent a future backlog of untested sexual assault kits.”

Sexual Assault Kit Tracking System

DOJ has procured Track-Kitby STACS DNA to create and launch a sexual assault kit tracking system by the end of 2021. The system will offer the ability to monitor the amount of time that a kit spends at different points in the kit processing system (hospitals, law enforcement agencies, and the crime laboratory). Victims of sexual assault will also be able to directly access information about their evidence, from the time it is collected until its disposal.

The Wisconsin State Senate recently approved legislation (Senate Bill 94) that would require law enforcement agencies and other criminal justice partners to report data about sexual assault kits into the tracking system. The legislation has not yet received a hearing in the Wisconsin State Assembly.

If this legislation becomes law, the state will have an up-to-date inventory of all sexual assault kits in the state. This could prevent any future backlogs of sexual assault kits, therefore ensuring a more consistent response to sexual assault crimes and improved justice for survivors.

The kit tracking system is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Census

In 2015, DOJ was awarded grant funding to identify and collect all sexual assault kits in the possession of law enforcement and hospitals. Testing was completed for all kits designated for testing in November 2019. However, this effort only included kits that were created prior to January 1, 2016.

Now, DOJ is working with law enforcement agencies to conduct a census of all sexual assault kits that have been created and come into the possession of law enforcement since that time.

This census will continue to be conducted until the sexual assault kit tracking system launches. This will provide the state a complete list of every sexual assault kit collected in the state since the 1980s.

By having a complete list of all sexual assault kits in the state, local and state criminal justice professionals will be able to prevent a future backlog of kits and understand and improve the state’s response to sexual.

The effort to conduct the census began in March 2021. To date, 173 out of 557 law enforcement agencies have begun the census.

Updated Data

As of April 7, 2021, 1,087 kits with foreign DNA identified have been added to a national database of DNA profiles, out of 4,476 tested sexual assault kits. The latest data can be found at wisaki.doj.wi.gov/numbers/data-results.

In tandem with local jurisdictions, DOJ completed a case review of every case where a foreign DNA profile was found (1,712 sexual assault kits) in 2020. A decision has been made to notify survivors about the results of 140 sexual assault kits; notification was not able to be made in connection with 39 of those kits. The decision whether to notify a survivor can change over time.

53 sexual assault kits have hit to 18 other states’ DNA databases.

For survivors looking for information about their kit, contact the law enforcement agency where the assault was reported, a local sexual assault service provider, or the DOJ Office of Crime Victim Services at 1-800-446-6564.

For more information and data about Wisconsin’s effort to end the backlog of sexual assault kits, go to wisaki.wi.doj.gov.