National Archive of Criminal Justice Data

This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

The Detroit Sexual Assault Kit Action Research Project; 1980-2009 (ICPSR 35632)

Principal Investigator(s): Campbell, Rebecca, Michigan State University; Fehler-Cabral, Giannina, Harder and Company Community Research

Summary:

These data are part of NACJD's Fast Track Release and are distributed as they were received from the data depositor. The files have been zipped by NACJD for release, but not checked or processed except for the removal of direct identifiers. Users should refer to the accompanying readme file for a brief description of the files available with this collection and consult the investigator(s) if further information is needed.

The four primary goals of The Detroit Sexual Assault Kit Action Research Project (DSAK-ARP) were:

  1. To assess the scope of the problem by conducting a complete census of all sexual assault kits (SAKs) in police property.
  2. To identify the underlying factors that contributed to why Detroit had so many un-submitted SAKs.
  3. To develop a plan for testing SAKs and to evaluate the efficacy of that plan.
  4. To create a victim notification protocol and evaluate the efficacy of that protocol.

To conduct the census and investigate factors that contributed to untested SAKs, The study investigated police and other public records, interviewed public officials and employees and manually cataloged untested SAKs to conduct the census and gather information as to the decision making processes as to why the SAKs remained untested.

A random sample of 1,595 SAKs were tested as part of developing a SAK testing plan. Kits were divided into four testing groups to examine the utility of testing SAKs for stranger perpetrated sexual assaults, non-stranger perpetrated sexual assaults and sexual assaults believed to be beyond the statute of limitations. The final testing group split SAKs randomly into two addition sample sets as part of an experimental design to examine whether the testing method of selective degradation was a quicker and more cost efficient approach that offered satisfactory levels of accuracy when compared to standard DNA testing methods.

A two stage protocol was created to inform sexual assault victims that their SAKs had been tested, discuss options for participating with the investigation and prosecution process and connect the victim with community services.

Access Notes

  • These data are part of NACJD's Fast Track Release and are distributed as they were received from the data depositor. The files have been zipped by NACJD for release, but not checked or processed except for the removal of direct identifiers. Users should refer to the accompanying readme file for a brief description of the files available with this collection and consult the investigator(s) if further information is needed.

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more. You can apply online for access to the restricted-use data. A login is required to apply.

    Access to these data is restricted. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete a Restricted Data Use Agreement, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

    Any public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

Dataset(s)

Study Description

Citation

Campbell, Rebecca, and Giannina Fehler-Cabral. The Detroit Sexual Assault Kit Action Research Project; 1980-2009. ICPSR35632-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2016-07-12. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR35632.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR35632.v1

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)

Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2011-DN-BX-0001)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    forensic medicine, law enforcement, rape, rapists, sex offenses, sexual assault, victimization, victims

Smallest Geographic Unit:    City

Geographic Coverage:    Detroit, Michigan, United States

Time Period:   

  • 1980--2009

Date of Collection:   

  • 2011-04--2013-09

Unit of Observation:    Sexual assault kits (SAKs).

Universe:    All sexual assault kits (SAKs) in Detroit police property on November 1st, 2009 and current and former employees of all organizations involved with the handling or testing of SAKs in Detroit police custody.

Data Type(s):    administrative records data, aggregate data, clinical data, experimental data, medical records, observational data

Data Collection Notes:

These data are part of NACJD's Fast Track Release and are distributed as they were received from the data depositor. The files have been zipped by NACJD for release, but not checked or processed except for the removal of direct identifiers. Users should refer to the accompanying readme files for a brief description of the files available with this collection and consult the investigator(s) if further information is needed.

The qualitative data are not available as part of this data collection at this time.

The qualitative data for this study not being released includes Action Research Project meeting minutes, interviews with Detroit stakeholders, questions to public officials, and a focus group for Detroit stakeholders.

This data collection included 250 of the 400 sexual assault kits (SAKs) tested during a previously conducted study known as The 400 Project. The 400 SAKs tested in that study were included in the census of all SAKs in Detroit police custody carried out in The Detroit Sexual Assault Kit Action Research Project.

Methodology

Study Purpose:    The purpose of this study was to determine how many SAKs were in Detroit police custody; determine the causes that led 8,717 sexual assault kits (SAKs) to be left untested; develop a plan for testing the SAKs; and to create a victim notification protocol.

Study Design:   

This project has four distinct steps:

1) The first step involved conducting a census of all sexual assault kits (SAKs) in police custody in the city of Detroit. The census took 15 weeks to complete and revealed that there were 11,219 SAKs in police custody and 8,717 SAKS had never been submitted for testing.

2) The second step involved investigating why so many SAKs were un-submitted. The research team interviewed current and former employees in all organizations involved (police department, crime lab, prosecutor's office, sexual assault nurse examiners and advocacy groups) as well as examined publicly-available documents and internal organizational records to assess the resources available for serving rape victims and testing SAKs.

3) The third step in the process was to develop a plan and test untested SAKs. A stratified random sample of 1,595 kits were split into four testing groups, each one designed to address specific research questions regarding the utility of SAK testing under different case circumstances:

  1. Testing Group 1: Stranger-perpetrated sexual assaults
  2. Testing Group 2: Non-stranger perpetrated sexual assaults
  3. Testing Group 3: Sexual assault cases that were presumed to be beyond the statute of limitations (SOL).
  4. Testing Group 4: SAKs were randomly assigned to two different DNA testing methods to examine whether an emerging testing method, selective degradation, could offer faster and less expensive testing options without sacrificing accuracy (relative to traditional DNA testing methods).

A fifth testing group sample, drawn from SAKs outside of the original stratified sample of 1,595 kits, was included to compute sampling weights for the analysis. This sample of 250 SAKs was drawn from the 400 kits tested as part of the earlier 400 Project. While not in the original stratified sample, all 400 of The 400 Project SAKs were included in the 15 week census.

All Testing Groups were compared with respect to their rates of Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) entries (the SAKs contained a DNA eligible profile for CODIS), CODIS hits (a DNA match to a profile in CODIS), and serial sexual assault hits (a DNA match across two or more SAKs). Forty-nine percent of the SAKS tested were CODIS eligible.

4) The fourth step of the project was to develop and evaluate a victim notification protocol. This was achieved by reviewing cases that had CODIS hits, meeting with the victims and notifying them that their SAKs hadn't been tested originally and discussing options for the future, including connecting them with community survivor services. Forty-one cases were selected for notification by the multidisciplinary review team and 31 survivors were able to be found. The contact was made by investigators affiliated with the prosecutor's office and typically occurred at the victim's home. Fifty-seven percent of the victims decided that they wanted to participate in the investigation and prosecution process.

Sample:   

A stratified random sample of 1,595 sexual assault kits (SAKs) were tested out of the 8,717 SAKs in Detroit police custody as of November 1st, 2009. The sample of SAKs were divided into the following testing groups:

  • Testing Group One included 450 stranger assailant cases from 2002-2009.
  • Testing Group Two consist of 450 non-stranger assailant cases from 2002-2009.
  • Testing Group Three consist of 350 cases that occurred before 2002 (or presumed to be after the statute of limitations) and included both stranger and non-stranger cases.
  • Testing Group Four consist of 350 cases from 2002-2009 that were then randomly assigned to one of two different DNA testing methods: traditional extraction vs. selective degradation and included stranger and non-stranger cases.
Testing Group Five was drawn from SAKs outside of the original stratified sample of 1,595 kits and was included to compute sampling weights for the analysis. This sample of 250 SAKs was drawn from the 400 kits tested as part of the earlier 400 Project. This group included 250 cases from 2002-2009 for which victim offender relationship was known.

Time Method:    Cross-sectional

Weight:    The script file Import_400_Project_from_SPSS_to_R_2015-01-21.R reads in data from the 400 Project and then produces two key crosstabs that were used to define the weights applied in DSAK_Model2_2015-01-23.R and DSAK_Model7_2015-01-23.R. The latter two scripts include code for calculating those weights and attaching them to individual observations.

Mode of Data Collection:    record abstracts, coded on-site observation, face-to-face interview

Data Source:

Ethnographic observations of meetings.

Stakeholder interviews.

Archival records from agencies directly involved in the events surrounding the discovery of the un-submitted sexual assault kits (SAKs).

Police forensic testing spreadsheets that determine which SAKs had been submitted to the lab for testing.

Detroit's police database that provided the number of SAK's in police custody.

Records from organizations involved with Detroit sexual assault cases: Detroit police records, police advocacy program records, police forensic lab records, prosecution records, state forensic lab records, sexual assault forensic exam program records, and records from community-based advocacy organizations.

Test results from SAKs tested in a separately funded project known as "The 400 Project".

Data from the vendor laboratory that tested the SAKs.

Data from the Michigan State Police which supervised the DNA testing conducted by the vendor laboratory.

Description of Variables:   

This study is comprised of seven SPSS datasets that contain information drawn from the testing of the sexual assault kits (SAKs).

  1. Dataset one (DSAK_2014-07-06.sav) is the primary SAK-level data file in the Detroit Sexual Assault Kit Action Research Project (DSAK-ARP). It includes 27 variables and 1,595 cases from all four testing groups. Each variable is a description of a particular property of the SAK including victim and assailant demographics (age, gender and race); preexisting victim and perpetrator relationship; whether a weapon or physical force were used; drugs or alcohol involvement; length of time between the offense and the exam; whether the SAK was a Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) entry or CODIS hit; whether the offender was identified in this case or by a hit in another case as well; and what method of DNA testing was used.
  2. Dataset two (DSAK.g4_2014-07-06.sav) includes 32 variables and 350 cases. This dataset contains information on Testing Group 4 of the DSAK-ARP. The variables include similar information as dataset one, including demographic information about the victims and assailants, factual information about the assailant and the crime, and whether there was a CODIS hit or multiple SAKs hits. Additionally, it contains information on review time, whether DNA testing was continued post-screening, the number of DNA samples in the SAK, and the number of samples that included sperm.
  3. Dataset three (Lab_Cost_2014-06-03.sav) includes three variables and four cases. Data were provided by the vendor laboratory that tested the SAKs. The dataset contains aggregated data for a subset of Testing Group 4 SAKs from the DSAK-ARP. The three variables indicate DNA testing method, whether a DNA test was given and cost of supplies for DNA testing.
  4. Dataset four (Lab_Time_2014-06-03.sav) has five variables and 25 cases. Data was provided by the vendor laboratory that tested the SAKs. The cases represent aggregated data for a subset of Testing Group 4 SAKs from the DSAK-ARP. The subsets are defined by the combination of DNA testing method and Lab Analyst ID. The variables describe the vendor ID, method of testing, and time spent testing and reviewing the results.
  5. Dataset five (MSP_Time_2014-06-03.sav) has four variables and 350 cases. The cases represent data for a unique SAK from Testing Group 4 in the DSAK-ARP. The variables describe the ID, DNA testing method, Michigan State Police ID, and time spent reviewing the DNA results. These data came from the Michigan State Police, which supervised the DNA testing conducted by the vendor laboratory.
  6. Dataset six (Rape_Kit_Era_Raw_Data.sav) has 22 variables and 10,817 cases. The cases represent all SAKs in police custody from the start of the project to November 1st, 2009. The variables represent information about the SAKs including the year the kit was collected, whether it was submitted to a lab, CODIS status and what sort of additional funding or programs, that could affect SAK testing, were in effect at the time the SAK was collected.
  7. Dataset seven (400_Project_2014-07-06.sav) contains three variables and 250 cases. These cases are outside of the original stratified sample of 1,595 kits that make up the cases in the other six datasets. These cases are a sub-sample of the 400 Detroit SAKs analyzed as part of The 400 Project. These cases were included in the census conducted as part of The DSAK-ARP. The three variables are an ID, an indicator of whether the kit was expired, and an indicator of whether the offender was a stranger or a person known to the victim. This data set was used to create sampling weights for the DSAK-ARP analyses.
The datasets are accompanied by 17 .R and .Rout syntax files that contain code, scripts and syntax for replicating the results of the original analysis.

Response Rates:    Not Applicable.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:   2016-07-12

Utilities

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