No Rape Case Goes Unanalyzed: A Rapid Approach to Sexual Assault Evidence

In many cases of sexual assault, crime laboratories have generally lacked the resources needed to use forensic DNA within the short response time that is most beneficial to a criminal investigation. This lack creates problems in the system by slowing investigations and preventing justice for many victims. A solution to this emerged when forensic scientists at the California Department of Justice (DOJ) Jan Bashinski DNA Laboratory in Richmond developed a DNA processing method that is fundamentally different from the traditional approach. This rapid approach method, which combines innovative evidence triaging with a redesign of the evidence submission route, provides a sustainable process for a high-throughput program with a 15-day turnaround time.

As part of a pilot program, four California counties adopted Rapid DNA Service (RADS). Forensic hospital staff, law enforcement, and the laboratory staff spent 22 months using the method to analyze DNA in all cases where sexual assault evidence (SAE) was collected in a hospital.