Sexual Assault Kit Tracking ApplicationWest Virginia
The Sexual Assault Kit Tracking Application (SAKiTA) provides feedback to sexual assault forensic examiners (SAFEs, SANEs) about the quality of samples collected at the facility.
Unfortunately, few crime laboratories have a system in place for providing feedback to health care providers who collect sexual assault evidence. Some crime laboratories even refuse to give the information to anyone other than the prosecutor. This means that unless a case goes to trial, it is unlikely that the SANE will ever know the results of the evidence collected.
- To provide SANEs and physicians with feedback on evidence collected during forensic medical exams, regardless of whether cases go to trial.
- To provide information that enhances expert testimony by sexual assault nurse examiners and physicians.
Making the Idea a Reality
The West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services (FRIS) worked closely with the West Virginia State Police Forensic Laboratory and Marshall University Forensic Science Center to develop a secure tracking system that would provide feedback for SANEs and physicians. Ronnie Jewell of the Computer Forensic Laboratory and Marshall University Forensic Science Center developed SAKiTA to meet that need; the application was implemented in January 2006.
The state sexual assault coalition's Web site, which is hosted at a secure location through Marshall University's Forensic Science Center, runs SAKiTA. SAKiTA has three levels of administration: SANE (medical provider), WV State Police Forensic Laboratory, and FRIS/Marshall University Forensic Science Center.
Here's how SAKiTA works
- One must contact the state coalition for a username and password to access the SAKiTA secure Web site location.
- All sex crime kits are assigned tracking numbers when sent to the hospitals from the WV State Police Forensic Laboratory.
- All sex crime kits include a form to be completed by the SANE or other medical provider collecting evidence. The SANE/SAFE who collects the evidence then submits the form either electronically or by mail to the crime lab with the kit. After they analyze the kit, crime lab personnel complete the feedback portion of the form and post the feedback information on the SAKiTA system.
- The SANE/SAFE can access SAKiTA directly to review the feedback on the kit that he or she collected, which will reveal what evidence was found in the kit.
Feedback provided by SAKiTA
SANEs and other health care providers who use this system in West Virginia will get immediate feedback on the results of all swabs submitted for analysis. They will be told which swabs are positive and which are not, as well as whether the evidence was packaged and dried correctly by the examiner. In addition, they will be informed if sperm were found, if DNA was identified, and from which sources. Space is also available for the laboratory personnel to provide additional feedback on the evidence submitted. [The feedback form is available in this toolkit.].
Benefits to Service Providers and Victims
SAKiTA will help the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services (FRIS), the West Virginia State Police Forensic Laboratory, and the West Virginia SANE Advisory Board to identify weaknesses in evidence collection procedures, thus pinpointing training needs for the state. Using SAKiTA will not only provide a feedback mechanism for forensic examiners, but will help the State Police Forensic Laboratory determine the location of sex crime kits once they have been sent to the laboratory from hospitals throughout the state. SAKiTA will also create a system for determining the status of a sex crime kit once it is received at the lab.
In addition, SAKiTA will provide data for a comparison of sex crime kits collected by SANEs and non-SANEs. FRIS believes that the data will show the need for hospitals to support the SANE initiative in West Virginia by training nurses and developing more SANE programs throughout the state.
West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services
112 Braddock Street
Fairmont, WV 26554