Michigan debuts sexual assault evidence kit tracking system, enhancing justice for survivors
Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018
LANSING, Mich. – As a result of Michigan’s new innovative web-based tracking system, survivors of sexual assault can now follow their sexual assault kit through each step of the investigative process, Gov. Rick Snyder announced today. The new system is a recommendation of the Governor’s Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Tracking and Reporting Commission.
The new tracking system, called Track-Kit, was piloted earlier this year in Calhoun County, and in November was rolled out in nine counties in Southwest Michigan. Plans call for statewide implementation by region to be complete in the summer of 2019.
“This system serves as another safeguard to help prevent a stockpile of untested sexual assault evidence kits while enhancing a survivor’s ability to monitor the status of testing,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “I thank my state and local partners for working together to give survivors of sexual assault access to information that can help them find justice and begin healing.”
Michigan acted in response to more than 11,000 untested rape kits being found in an abandoned Detroit police facility and similar situations discovered in Michigan and nationwide. The state has become a national leader in efforts to track the processing of sexual assault kits.
“This new system represents justice for survivors of sexual assault,” said Debi Cain, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Division of Victim Services and co-chair of the gubernatorial-appointed Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board. “An important piece of this system is that survivors of sexual assault can log in confidentially, see where their kit is in the system, and whether it has been tested and returned to law enforcement. They can assure themselves, at any time, day or night, that their kit has not been forgotten or lost.”
The Michigan State Police Grants and Community Services Division is responsible for the administration of the system and MDHHS’s Division of Victim Services will generate reports from the system that demonstrate agency and healthcare compliance with Michigan’s Sexual Assault Kit Evidence Submission Act.
“Through a multi-faceted and multi-jurisdictional approach, Michigan has been a national leader in developing protocols for responding to untested sexual assault evidence kits and in developing a kit-tracking protocol to ensure justice for survivors,” stated Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP and co-chair of Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Tracking and Reporting Commission.
After beginning in Southwest Michigan, the phased rollout will work its way up the west side of the Lower Peninsula, through the Upper Peninsula, and then down the east side of the Lower Peninsula. In November the system became available to healthcare, law enforcement and prosecutors in the counties of Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren. Survivors will be able to monitor submitted kits once the new system is implemented in each respective region. Kits collected prior to system’s implementation will not be accessible through the new system.
“We always knew that there had to be some kind of system to keep everyone honest and accountable put in place when it comes to sexual assault kits,” said Kym Worthy, Wayne County prosecutor. “Think about all of the hundreds of thousands of packages that are moved logistically every day. They are scanned, and tracked, and it is known exactly where they are at every bend and turn. My office has worked to track rape kits and I am elated that the state of Michigan has set the bar and taken this on. The collaboration has been wonderful, and we all want to live in a Michigan that is completely free of untested and abandoned sexual assault kits.”
The annual cost for licensing, web-hosting and user support is approximately $700,000. Track-Kit was acquired from Sample Tracking and Control Software for DNA Labs, known as STACSDNA.
Some of the significant features of the Track-Kit system, as designed for and implemented in Michigan, include:
- Listing local, state and national resources for survivors.
- Email notifications to law enforcement agencies for when kits are ready for pickup at health care facilities, at other law enforcement agencies, or at the forensic science laboratory.
- User-configurable reporting functions.
- Online chat and phone user support, 24 hours a day.
Visit www.michigan.gov/crimevictims to view a video about the new sexual assault kit tracking system.
For more information about resources available to survivors of sexual assault, visit www.michigan.gov/voices4.