Date of Submission


Document Type



Criminal Justice


Anne Li Kringen, Ph.D.


Sexual Assault, Forensic Evidence, Sexual Assault Kits (SAKs), SAK policies, Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, Joyful Heart Foundation


Rape kits, Rape, Rape--Investigation, Legislation, Public policy (Law)--United States


The media have brought attention to the number of untested sexual assault kits (SAKs) in storage that law enforcement has failed to submit for testing despite the valuable information they can provide to assist in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases. Numerous studies have demonstrated a need for changes in SAK policies to better address the submission of SAKs and ensure that no SAK goes untested, but less attention has been paid to the content and language of these changes. Current and pending state legislation addressing the handling of SAKs in each of the fifty states in the United States and Washington D.C. were collected through an internet search. A content analysis of collected policies was conducted to determine the prevalence of SAK legislative changes, the number of states to incorporate model policy recommendations from the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) and Joyful Heart Foundation, and the variation in the inclusion of these recommendations. This study found that states have predominately not adopted the policy recommendations into their legislation, many states have not updated their SAK policies recently, and, where these recommendations were adopted, there was substantial variation in the way they were addressed. These findings demonstrate a need for states to adopt all components of the SAKI and Joyful Heart Foundation model policy recommendations and for future analyses on the impact of such SAK policy adoption on the current SAK backlog.