The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office received $993,979 in Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) funding to continue investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases.
With the new funding, the Unit will hire 2 additional attorneys, another victim advocate and an additional investigator.
“With the SAKI funding our Office has been able to assist survivors of sexual assault by assisting in cold case investigations, prosecutions, and providing information,” Lee Hood, Deputy District Attorney and SAKI supervisor said.
To date, the DA’s Office has gotten nearly $3 million in SAKI funding since receiving its first award in 2018. Previous funding has been used to implement DNA analysis through forensic genetic genealogy testing and complex screening in hopes of identifying serial offenders. The office has also established a Sexual Assault Cold Case Working Group, contracted additional personnel, and is currently developing and implementing victim-centered communication and coordination strategies.
“We have formed a cold case team called the SAKI Unit that has now reviewed over 1500 of the rape kit back log cases,” Hood said.
Lee said the initiative uses a victim centered, trauma informed and offender focused approach.
“One of the biggest concerns of the SAKI Unit are the offenders who have been identified in more the one of the rape cases that have now been tested,” Lee said. “There are also many cases where the offender’s identity is still unknown.”
A concern this funding will hopefully address by expanding the Unit’s capacity to serve victims, process SAKs, prosecute offenders, and eliminate the number of previously unsubmitted SAKs.
Read more about SAKI and the grants here.
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Brandale Mills Cox, Ph.D. Communications Director Office of the Second Judicial District Attorney 520 Lomas Blvd NW Albuquerque, NM 87102 505-231-0217