Sexual Assault

Taking on the Challenge of Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits

NIJ and the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government are hosting a webinar, Taking on the Challenge of Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits. The session will be held October 31st from 11am-12:30pm (sorry, Alaska and Hawaii). Click through for details:

From the site:


When a jurisdiction reveals that it has large numbers of sexual assault kits that have never been submitted to the lab, they face a number of complex, sensitive, and interconnected challenges. For example, they may need to conduct an audit to learn the nature of the cases and the extent of the numbers, they may need to handle intense scrutiny from the media and community, and they may need to find additional resources to test the kits and investigate older cases.

To better understand the problem and possible solutions, the National Institute of Justice funded multidisciplinary teams to investigate the issues in Detroit and Houston. The projects engaged key stakeholders (including police, prosecutors, victims, and victims support providers) in partnership with researchers. Together the partners explored the underlying reasons of why so many unsubmitted sexual assault kits accumulated over time and made recommendations about how best to proceed.

In this seminar, the teams will discuss the issues they grappled with: how to triage and process the testing of the kits, when and how to notify victims, and how to make policy and practice changes to both prevent future build-ups of kits and enhance the provision of justice for victims of sexual assault.


  • Rebecca Campbell, PhD, Michigan State University
  • Noel Busch-Armendariz, PhD, University of Texas at Austin
  • Bill Wells, PhD, Sam Houston State University
  • Mary Lentschke, Assistant Chief, Houston Police Department

Moderator: Bethany Backes, Social Science Analyst, National Institute of Justice, US Department of Justice