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EVAWI > Resources > Best Practices > Evidence Retention
DNA and Biological Evidence

This training module explores the complex role of DNA and other biological evidence in a sexual assault investigation. A number of resources and tools are provided, along with a series of complex and interactive case examples. The module was co-authored by EVAWI’s Joanne Archambault and Kim Lonsway, along with Dr. Patrick O’Donnell (Supervising Criminalist, San Diego Police Department) and Lauren Ware (Chief of the Forensics and Special Investigative Branch at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center).

Untested Evidence and Cold Case Investigation

This training module is designed to help communities address the complex challenges of untested evidence in sexual assault cases. While the material is largely written with reference to cold cases, much of the guidance applies equally to current sexual assault cases and investigations that have been recently inactivated or suspended. Specific guidance is offered for notifying victims that their investigation has been re-opened, keeping victims informed of the status of their case, and providing ongoing victim support throughout the criminal justice process.

Model Policy Materials on Evidence Retention

EVAWI created model policy materials on Evidence Retention and Disposition and/or Removal to provide law enforcement agencies guidance in this area. The materials include sample language to use when developing an agency policy, as well as instructional commentary and template materials. It can therefore be used as an educational tool as well as a resource to assist in the development of policies, protocols, and training materials.

Evidence Tracking Toolkit

The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) offers an Evidence Tracking Toolkit, which includes documents, webinars, and other resources on a three key topics: (1) Conducting a Sexual Assault Kit Inventory, (2) Selecting and Implementing and Evidence Tracking System, and (3) Sample Evidence Tracking Systems.

Urban Institute Study on Evidence Retention

The Urban Institute published a research brief on evidence retention issues entitled VAWA 2005 and Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Exams: Kit Storage Issues in 2014. This brief is part of a full report, entitled Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Exams and VAWA 2005: Payment Practices, Successes, and Directions for the Future, which examines how states are meeting the goals of VAWA provisions regarding medical forensic examinations.

Evidence Submission, Retention, and Disposal Policy

The Kansas Sexual Assault Kit (SAKI) Initiative developed a policy that includes guidelines for submitting sexual assault evidence collection kits to a forensic laboratory, retaining them within their property rooms, the eventual disposal of evidence, and what to do with “anonymous kits.”

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