To determine the extent of implementation of the recommendation included in our initial audit report, Processing of Sexual Offense Evidence Collection Kits (2019-S-44).
Medical professionals use Sexual Offense Evidence Collection Kits (kits) provided to hospitals and other health care providers to collect DNA and other evidence during the physical exam of an alleged sexual assault victim. The victim has the right to choose whether to report the incident to law enforcement and consent to have the kit released by the hospital for forensic testing. Once a victim provides consent, the investigating law enforcement agency collects the kit and sends it to a forensic laboratory for analysis and to attempt to obtain a DNA profile. If a DNA profile is developed and meets specific requirements, it is entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a federally administered database of DNA profiles from convicted persons, crime scenes, and unidentified human remains, which can help link violent crimes and known offenders.
Executive Law Section 838-a, Maintenance of Sexual Offense Evidence Kits (Executive Law), enacted in November 2016, set forth the procedures for processing kits, including assessing case-specific information for CODIS eligibility; analyzing the contents of the kit and developing a CODIS-eligible profile, if possible; and reporting the results of such analysis to the submitting law enforcement agency. A February 2017 amendment required law enforcement agencies to submit all untested kits in their custody – regardless of age – to a forensic laboratory by December 28, 2017 for processing. Kits received by law enforcement agencies prior to February 26, 2017 were required to be processed within 210 days of receipt at the lab, and kits received by law enforcement agencies on or after February 26, 2017 were required to be processed within 90 days of receipt at the lab. The amendment also required law enforcement agencies to begin submitting kits received after February 26, 2017 to forensic laboratories within 10 days. The Division of State Police’s (Division) Crime Laboratory System (CLS) is composed of four laboratories, including the Forensic Investigation Center (FIC) in Albany, which processes kits for the Division and provides forensic analysis support to all State criminal justice agencies.
Our initial audit report, issued on May 27, 2020, sought to determine if the Division’s CLS processed kits in compliance with the Executive Law. The audit found that from November 28, 2017 to October 31, 2019, the FIC processed 1,656 kits, but only 356 of them were completed within the time frames prescribed by law. Also, as of October 31, 2019, the FIC had 1,916 unprocessed kits, and the required processing time frame had elapsed for 1,681 of them. During the audit, the FIC had taken steps to speed up kit processing; however, it was not able to meet the required time frames.
The Division implemented the recommendation made in our initial audit report, resulting in significant progress in addressing the issues identified in the initial audit.
State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Nadine Morrell
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email: [email protected]
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236