Attorney General Laxalt Secures Additional $1.96 Million Grant to Help Reduce the Sexual Assault Kit Backlog in Nevada

October 5, 2015

$523,268 in grant funds also awarded for sexual assault kit tracking system

Carson City, NV - Today, Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt announced that Nevada has received two additional federal grants to help address the backlog of untested sexual assault kits in the State. In addition to one federal grant awarded in 2015, the Office of the Nevada Attorney General has secured a total of three federal grants on behalf of the State of Nevada towards its untested sexual assault kit initiative.

In the spring of 2016, the Office of the Nevada Attorney General applied for two additional grants in order to augment funds and resources AG Laxalt previously secured to address the State's backlog of untested sexual assault kits. The first grant of $1,962,414 was awarded by the Bureau of Justice Association to increase investigative and prosecutorial resources throughout the State in response to the sexual assault kit backlog. These additional resources will help resolve Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) hits and provide a statewide assessment of current policies and practices of response to sexual assault and its victims. The funds will also augment the State's ability to develop supportive victim-centered and trauma-informed responses to sexual assault, and provide systemic training and assistance to implement these responses into effective community partnerships, policies and practices to prevent future backlogs.

Additionally, Nevada has received $523,268 in federal grant funds to enable the research and implementation of Sexual Assault Kit tracking and record-keeping systems. These systems will be used by the forensic laboratories in both the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the Washoe County Sheriff's Office, and will allow sexual assault kits to be tracked from the case report and kit submission to a forensic crime lab and finally to case resolution.

"I am proud to be the first Nevada attorney general to take on the State's long overdue sexual assault kit backlog," said Laxalt. "These additional grant funds will provide support and resources towards efforts already underway to test sexual assault kits and bring attackers and serial offenders to justice. Being awarded these competitive grants is not only encouraging to our survivors of sexual assault, but to all Nevadans concerned about protecting the most vulnerable in society. I commend my Office for securing these additional funds, and together with the Working Group, look forward to implementing appropriate policies and procedures to ensure Nevada continues to take a victim-centered approach to justice."

In September, 2015, AG Laxalt announced that his office pledged over $3.68 million in funding to help reduce Nevada's backlog of untested sexual assault evidence kits. The secured funds were made available through a $1,983,533 Sexual Assault Kit Initiative grant program and a $1,700,000 Bureau of Consumer Protection settlement. In December 2015, Nevada's Interim Finance Committee's unanimously approved these funds to address the State's untested sexual assault kits.

AG Laxalt continues to chair a regularly convening Sexual Assault Kit Working Group to develop strategies and best practices to complete the analysis of untested sexual assault kits. The group collectively addresses matters including: victim notification, statewide training, resources for victims, testing of sexual assault kits collected in connection with a crime, entering all eligible DNA profiles into CODIS, following up on investigative leads, identification of subjects, prosecuting cases associated with these kits, collecting data for academic research, and identifying statewide resources, processes and legislation to prevent future backlogs.

A sexual assault kit is used to collect physical evidence during an invasive and lengthy examination conducted at a hospital or rape crisis center following a sexual assault. Generally, these kits contain a checklist, materials and instructions, as well as a means to package any specimens collected during the examination.