The prevalence of Sexual Assault in the United States is staggering. According to The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Report, Sexual Assault is a heinous crime that affects approximately 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in their lifetimes. Since 1998, 1 in 5 Sexual Assault cases reported in Alabama have occurred in Jefferson County. Sexual Assault is incredibly difficult to investigate and prosecute due to the intimate nature of the crime. Jefferson County, Alabama is no different. Yet, the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office is committed to reducing these number’s by holding perpetrators accountable for their crimes.
In 2016, the Jefferson County’s District Attorney’s Office received the first of three federal grants designed to improve the criminal justice system’s response to Sexual Assault in Jefferson County. Through these grants we have increased the support for victims through a more survivor-centered and trauma-informed response to Sexual Assault and worked to streamline the process of investigating and prosecuting Sexual Assault.
To speak with an advocate about a Sexual Assault case, please contact 205-325-1423 or email DA_SAKI_group@jccal.org
Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI):
In 2016, the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance awarded Jefferson County a Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grant in the amount of 1.5 million dollars for a three-year project. The purpose of the grant was to provide resources and personnel dedicated to examining the current criminal justice response to Sexual Assault in Jefferson County. The grant funds allowed us to inventory, track, and test previously unsubmitted Sexual Assault kits (SAKs), as well as improve coordination and collaboration among various stakeholders involved in Sexual Assault investigations and prosecutions.
In 2019, and then again in 2020, our office was awarded additional funding from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Sexual Assault Initiative (SAKI) to continue our work. These funds are currently being used to support the testing of Sexual Assault kits, and the investigation and prosecution of previously unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits (SAKs) in Jefferson County. The funds allow us to work with community partners to develop a sustainable, trauma-informed approach to Sexual Assault investigations and prosecutions; collect data to understand current dynamics, institutionalize best practices for trauma-informed investigations and prosecutions; and continue inventorying, tracking, and testing previously unsubmitted kits.
The goals of the Jefferson County DA’s Office Sexual Assault Kit Initiative include the following:
- A thorough inventory of all Sexual Assault kits in the county.
- The development of a database that will provide easily accessible information to advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors and community partners invested in addressing the needs of victims.
- Providing advocates to help survivors of Sexual Assault navigate through the criminal justice system.
- Using a Multidisciplinary Team for Sexual Assault that include victim advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors, and community partners to provide a victim centered approach for assessing cases for prosecution and adressing the needs of Sexual Assault survivors.
- The use of a specially trained, dedicated prosecutor to review Sexual Assault cases.
Jefferson County’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative is dedicated to taking an in-depth and comprehensive look at Sexual Assault across the county. With 27 separate jurisdictions and two District Attorney’s Offices, additional resources were needed to develop a common language and protocol for addressing Sexual Assault county-wide. Jefferson County’s Multidisciplinary Team is comprised of law enforcement, criminal analyst, advocates, prosecutor’s, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner’s, and representatives from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. The Multidisciplinary Team is responsible for developing protocols for testing, investigating, and prosecuting any cases that can move forward. Advocates work directly with survivors to help them navigate the system and address their needs throughout the process. Together these individuals are working to address individual cases, policies, procedures, as well as training needs within Jefferson County. Our efforts are survivor-centered and trauma-informed, meaning that the survivor is the center of the process and all efforts will be made to reduce the traumatization that can occur throughout the criminal justice system.
Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) Inventory:
Jefferson County’s first Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grant was awarded to specifically address Sexual Assault kits in the county that were not previously submitted to the lab for testing. With the help of local law enforcement, SAKI staff completed a comprehensive inventory of sexual assault kits in Jefferson County, which yielded a total of 4,999 kits with 3,876 of those kits identified as never having been submitted for testing. SAKI staff are now in the process of researching the case status for each kit and using a database to collect information on these inventoried and future Sexual Assault kits.
Sexual Assault Kit Initiative’s (SAKI’s) national goals are to understand why kits have not been tested in the past, to provide education on the importance of testing kits, and to find solutions to the unique roadblocks that prevent testing that may be unique to each jurisdiction. Jefferson County is fortunate to have received the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grants so that we can look at the national problem of unsubmitted kits from a local and multidisciplinary perspective.
News and Information:
Other Community Resources:
Crisis Center, Inc. Home - Crisis Center (crisiscenterbham.org)
One Place Metro Family Justice Center Help for Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Victims in Birmingham (oneplacebirmingham.com)
Alabama Coalition Against Rape Alabama Coalition against Rape