The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Laboratory have formed a partnership to help address one of the most difficult and complex issues facing our nation’s criminal justice system: unsubmitted sexual assault kits (frequently referred to as untested).
The FBI will be a centralized testing laboratory for sexual assault kits, commonly referred to as rape kits, to be submitted from the nation’s law enforcement agencies and public forensic laboratories. In addition, NIJ will garner information from the program to help inform training practices and testing protocols for sexual assault kits and improve the quality and practices for collecting evidence and processing sexual assault kits.
Over the years, forensic DNA analysis has proven to be invaluable to the law enforcement community and the victims of violent crimes and their families. More violent crimes are solved as more DNA profiles are placed in the National DNA Index System (NDIS), which is considered one part of the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), the FBI’s program of support for criminal justice DNA databases as well as the software used to run these databases. NDIS has been particularly helpful to investigations that are very old and no longer producing new leads. For instance, decades ago, crimes from cold cases would have remained unsolved. The national database has been instrumental in solving violent crimes and providing valuable investigative leads to law enforcement.
The NDIS database contains the DNA profiles contributed by participating federal, state, and local forensic DNA laboratories. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, the federal government, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory, and Puerto Rico participate in NDIS. As of July 2013, NDIS contains over 12,056,400 offender profiles and 504,700 forensic profiles.
Ultimately, the success of the CODIS program will be measured by the crimes it helps to solve and prevent though its importance as an investigative tool. CODIS's primary metric, the "Investigation Aided," tracks the number of criminal investigations where CODIS has added value to the investigative process. So far, CODIS has produced over 216,100 hits assisting in more than 207,100 investigations.