JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska authorities are working with advocacy groups to draft guidelines for testing the state’s sexual assault kits, some of which have been shelved for years due to lack of funding.
Earlier this month, Alaska sexual assault experts met to hash out the best way to handle the state’s untested kits, the Juneau Empire reported (http://bit.ly/2xyNzAi ). Alaska State Troopers have more than 1,000 untested kits containing DNA evidence from sexual assaults, while in 2016, the Juneau Police Department had about 350 untested kits and the Anchorage Police Department had another 1,400.
The state received $1.1 million last fall to test the kits, but that hasn’t happened yet. A statewide group, known as the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative working group, is developing a testing priority to make sure the money is used as efficiently as possible.
“Obviously we’ve got a pretty good chunk of change . But it’s not going to cover everything,” said Maj. Jeff Laughlin, deputy director of the Alaska State Troopers.
Brad Myrstol, acting director of the University of Alaska Justice Center, said patience is needed when dealing with sexual assault kits, even though it’s a topic that people don’t want to be patient about.
While the initiative group works on the best way to use the $1.1 million, the state is soliciting proposals from private labs that will test the kits.
“I think it’s going to be a good thing for victims, and certainly for Alaska in the long run,” Laughlin said.
Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com