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Massachusetts rolling out tracking systems for sexual assault evidence kits

A new tracking system for sexual assault evidence collection kits, also known as SAECKs, will arrive to Boston in the coming weeks, allowing victims of sexual assault to track their kits through the evidence-gathering process.

The tracking system, known as Track-Kit, allows survivors to view their individual SAECK progress on a confidential web platform from evidence collection to testing, according to a press release from the Governor’s Office.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration has announced it will implement tracking systems for sexual assault evidence collection kits in Boston, which will allow sexual assault victims to track their kits through the evidence collection process. COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Track-Kit also supports survivors by providing them with local rape crisis center resources as well as specific hospital and district attorney’s contact informations and 24-hour access to tracking system technical support, according to the press release,.

The SAECK tracking system will reach Suffolk County — where Boston is located — in a few weeks and cover all of Massachusetts by March. Gov. Charlie Baker said he believes this new tracking tool may make a meaningful difference for survivors of sexual assault in Massachusetts, according to the press release.

“This tracking system is the product of incredible teamwork between the medical community, law enforcement agencies and survivor advocates,” Baker said, “and we are hopeful this tool will make a meaningful difference.”

In Massachusetts, all SAECKs have a strict chain of possession, in which the kits pass from medical personnel to police, who then transport them to the appropriate crime lab, according to the Massachusetts crime laboratory kit and transportation protocol. With Track-Kit, victims would be able to watch the movement of their evidence kit through the entirety of this chain.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said in the press release she believes this program will help victims navigate the SAECK process, as well as recover from trauma.

“For survivors facing a traumatic experience in the wake of a sexual assault,” Polito said, “this new tracking system offers timely access to meaningful, reliable and helpful information.”

Each trackable SAECK is a sealed box containing various samples of evidence collected from the body and clothing of a victim of sexual assault, according to the SAECK website.

The system also allows for tracking of kits by relevant medical personnel, investigators, prosecutors and others responsible for the kits throughout the process, according to the press release.

Jake Wark, deputy director of communications of the state’s Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, wrote in an email that the program’s funding includes costs of implementation, licensing, tech support and training for users and administrators.

“The cost,” Wark wrote, “is about $1 million for the current five-year contract.”

Oziah Deshommes, 18, of Hyde Park said he thinks the program will help survivors feel more comfortable with the process.

“I feel like it will make victims more comfortable after the situation transpires,” Deshommes said. “Because after most people get… sexually assaulted in general, I feel like there’s a lot of mystery behind what happens next. They’re kind of left in the dark, so I think this would help them.”

Christopher Boyd, 19, of Roxbury said he thinks transparency in the process could be comforting for victims.

“I would say that would probably be somewhat comforting,” Boyd said. “I think for a person who got raped and they are able to see and hear what’s going on, that could comfort them a lot more than it being possibly a lot more under wraps.”

Stephanie Kane, 24, of Brighton said although she believes this is a good thing, it does not address other issues that survivors of sexual assault face.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Kane said. “I don’t know if it’s going to help the culture that kind of follows people that come out as sexual assault victims, and I think that that’s the biggest problem. But I think that having this and having a little bit more transparency is going to be helpful.”

One Comment

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