Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Policy Committee Submits 2022 Annual Report

BALTIMORE, MD — The Sexual Assault Evidence Kit (SAEK) Policy and Funding Committee submitted its 2022 Annual Report, the fourth annual report since its inception in 2017. The committee was established to create uniform policies to statewide regarding the collection, testing and retention of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases and improving access to justice for victims of sexual assault. The SAEK Committee must submit an annual report of its activities during the previous fiscal year to the Governor and the General Assembly.

In September 2018, Maryland received a $ 2.6 million grant from the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) to conduct a statewide inventory of non-submitted kits, test a portion of non-submitted kits , establish a statewide monitoring system and provide victim services. In December 2021, Maryland received an additional $ 2.5 million in SAKI grants. In addition to ongoing efforts under the previous grant, grant funding for FY2021 will be used to hire investigators to support local law enforcement agencies and hire a violent criminal apprehension program. / CODIS strike coordinator.

In accordance with OAG regulations finalized in 2020, law enforcement agencies (LEAs) are now required to report an expanded list of data regarding their processing of SAEKs annually. As of December 15, 2021, the attorney general’s office had received reports from 43 LEAs, or 59% of the 74 agencies that investigate sexual assault. The 43 agencies reported having more than 6,900 untested kits. This number reflects all kits that were collected through June 30, 2021, including anonymous kits, which are exempt from testing in Maryland. The SAEK committee will continue to follow up with agencies that have not submitted an annual report and will post updated data on the committee’s webpage.

The Committee’s initial analysis of the data suggests that although there has been an improvement in LEA retention kits for the 20-year retention period, some agencies are not testing the kits according to the testing criteria in the statewide. The law requires that all SAEKs be tested, with a few exceptions. Some LEAs have provided additional reasons for not testing an SAEK that are inconsistent with statewide testing criteria. To ensure that the kits are tested according to the law, the SAEK committee will contact each agency that does not submit kits according to the new testing criteria and provide additional training.

In 2020, the General Assembly passed a law requiring forensic laboratories to report annually to the SAEK committee on the length of time required to perform the tests, from the time a kit is received until the time the report. is prepared. As of December 15, 2021, the OAG had received reports from three of the state’s six forensic laboratories. The three forensic labs reported testing a combined total of 521 SAEKs in FY2021. Among the kits received and tested in FY2021, the average time from receipt of kit to production of ‘a final report was 5 months.

As noted in the annual report, the Committee will also request the General Assembly to make permanent the 3-year pilot program for HIV nPEP that it established in 2019. The program, which is due to expire later this year, is funding the full course of 28 days. unprofessional human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) post-exposure prophylaxis (nPEP) treatment for victims of sexual assault. HIV nPEP is a form of medical intervention designed to prevent HIV infection after exposure to the virus. The drug should be started within 72 hours to maximize its effectiveness. As part of the pilot program, a victim of sexual assault or child sexual abuse will receive full nPEP treatment and follow-up care free of charge, if the drug is requested by the victim or prescribed by a healthcare professional. health.

The 2022 annual report can be viewed online here.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

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