The U.S. Department of Justice awarded the state of South Dakota the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grant earlier this month.
The researchers, led by Bridget Diamond-Welch, an associate professor of criminal justice at USD, were awarded a three-year, $500,000 grant. The grant was given to fund research on how sexual assault cases travel through the state’s judicial system factors that affect the results of the prosecutions.
“So many people in our state care deeply about helping victims of sexual assault, but sometimes we are hindered by a lack of information on just what is going wrong with cases,” Diamond-Welch said in a press release. “This project will help us understand what happens between initial report and case dispensation. We will then use this information to create trainings for prosecutors on how to handle these cases.”
South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigations, South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault and the Center for the Prevention of Childhood Maltreatment partnered with USD’s criminal justice program for work on this grant.
“This grant will allow us to better understand and improve the sexual assault kit process,” Krista Heeren-Graber, executive director of the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault said in a press release. “The network is honored to be a part of this grant projected and committed to working together to provide a safer South Dakota.”
The study will be housed at the Beadle County State’s Attorney Office, led by USD Law graduate Michael Moore.