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MT seeking funds to test over 250 additional backlogged sexual assault kits

Posted at 8:48 AM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 10:52:24-04

HELENA — Montana has around 275 sexual assault kits in backlog that need to be tested.

The Sex Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) Task Force met via conference call Thursday to discuss National Grant Solicitation and funding the testing of those kits

Through the work of the SAKI, more than 1,200 untested rape kits that were submitted to Montana agencies before 2016 were collected for testing. All of those kits have now been tested.

The new backlog of untested kits come from the period between 2016 and the enactment of Senate Bill 52 in 2019 which required all kits submitted to Montana crime labs to be tested.

The Montana Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently working on a grant proposal that would fund SAKI through September 2023.

In addition to testing, funding would be used for training of law enforcement agencies, since the way agencies respond to sexual assault has changed significantly over the past for years.

DOJ would also like to add a research analyst position, which would allow them to do a statewide analysis of sexual assault crimes and prosecution in Montana.

The grant application should be submitted to the federal government sometime next week.