Alameda County District Attorney's Office
Nancy E. O'Malley, District Attorney

Meet DA Nancy E. O'Malley

Alameda County DA Receives $835,000 Award from Manhattan DA

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley today announced that her office is the recipient of an award dedicated to the testing of backlogged and untested sexual assault forensic evidence kits (or 'SAKs'). Earlier today, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., announced the award of approximately $38 million in grants to 32 jurisdictions in 20 states across the U.S. These grants are awarded to eliminate backlogs of untested SAKs. The two-year awards - ranging in amount from approximately $97,000 to $2 million - will help test an estimated 56,475 SAKs, generating DNA evidence that will help solve cases across the country.

Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Loretta Lynch joined District Attorney Vance to announce the recipients of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA) separate, but complementary, $41 million Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) Grant Program, which is expected to test nearly 13,500 kits in 20 jurisdictions. DA O'Malley and her office were strong advocates for federal funding to local law enforcement to test previously untested SAKs. DA O'Malley worked closely with Congressman Mike Honda, who serves on the Appropriations Committee in the House of Representatives, to ensure $41 million in federal funds were included in the 2014-15 federal budget.

"I am deeply honored and grateful that my office has been selected to receive this monetary award,” said DA O’Malley.

“I began the process of identifying and testing the backlog of sexual assault forensic evidence kits in this county and across California in 2009. My office is a leader in the nation in the effort to eliminate the backlog of untested kits. Today’s award enables us to completely eliminate the entirety of the backlog in Alameda County. Our efforts will also reinforce a collaborative process by which sexual assault forensic evidence kits will be tracked from examination to conclusion, be tested in a timely manner and any DNA linked to a perpetrator will be uploaded to the national and statewide database. We owe nothing less to victim/survivors of sexual assault crimes and to the public to hold sex offenders accountable."

District Attorney O’Malley has been at the forefront in fighting to decrease California's backlog in untested SAKs. "It is vitally important that the issue of the backlog of untested SAKs be addressed at a local and national level. In Alameda County, we are seeing the success of our efforts to address the nearly 2,000 backlog of untested SAKs located in police agencies county-wide," states District Attorney O'Malley.

DA O'Malley also wrote and sponsored California legislation that provides strict guidelines for law enforcement to submit SAKs to a government crime lab for testing and for the crime labs to test and upload any DNA linked to a perpetrator within 120 days of receipt of the SAK from local law enforcement. This legislation, signed by Governor Jerry Brown, will ensure all SAKs in California are tested.

“Today is a historic day for survivors of sexual assault across the country,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. “Our $38 million investment means that more than 56,000 sexual assault kits will finally be tested, providing hope to tens of thousands of women who summoned the courage to report a rape and undergo an invasive examination. These grants will generate leads in thousands of cases across the country, some of them decades old. Tackling the national rape kit backlog means addressing a women’s and human rights issue that has been ignored for far too long. We are refusing to accept that some criminal justice problems are just too big – too ingrained, too controversial, too expensive – to solve.

“I would like to thank Vice President Biden and U.S. Attorney General Lynch for joining us to announce their own $41 million initiative, and for the dedication they have shown to this cause. Together, these grants represent the single largest contribution toward ending the rape kit backlog that has ever been made. I would also like to thank Mariska Hargitay for her relentless advocacy, as well as the many prosecutors, elected officials, survivors, and so many more who have worked tirelessly to draw attention to this injustice, and to end the national backlog.”

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Initiative

Sexual assault evidence kits, commonly known as “rape kits,” are collections of evidence taken during an invasive, lengthy examination conducted at a hospital or rape crisis center following a sexual assault. The DNA evidence contained in rape kits is a powerful tool for identifying suspects, convicting perpetrators, preventing future offenses, and even exonerating the innocent.

In November, District Attorney Vance committed an initial $35 million in funding, which has since grown to $38 million, to help jurisdictions nationwide test their backlogged sexual assault kits. In December, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office asked interested jurisdictions to submit an Expression of Interest detailing the scope of their jurisdiction’s backlogs, which informed the Request for Proposals the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office issued in April 2015. Grant applicants were asked to submit information about the size and scope of their backlogs, their current testing policies, and their willingness to follow best practices determined by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and its partners.

Posted on Sep 10, 2015