There is no more pressing issue today than safety. At MWF, we believe women cannot thrive unless they are safe.
For that reason, when called upon to lead the campaign to raise $10,000,000 to eliminate the backlog of untested rape kits found in police department storage in Detroit and to fund the investigation and prosecution of related perpetrators, we said a resounding YES!
ENOUGH SAID – Enough Sexual Assault In Detroit
Enough SAID is a powerful collaboration between Michigan Women’s Foundation, the Detroit Crime Commission -- both 501(c)(3) nonprofits -- and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office to bring to prosecution a backlog of sexual assault crimes, with the ultimate goal of preventing sexual assault in the future. It was formed after more than 11,000 untested rape kits were found in a Detroit Police Department storage unit in 2009. The goal of of the project is to create private/public partnerships to fund the testing of the kits, investigation of these cases and work with the WCPO to prosecute the assailants, ultimately strengthening this community.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Michigan Women’s Foundation has received funding from a consortium of area foundations, in line with the profound dedication these organizations share for metropolitan Detroit. Their generosity ensures that 100% of donations to Enough SAID go directly to this critical initiative. MWF will then grant money to DCC, charged with managing the process, as progress is made. Private funding will not be granted to Wayne County.
LEADERSHIP THROUGH ACTION
While dealing with this massive challenge will not be easy, Detroit is not alone in this horrific situation. In fact, there are more than 400,000 untested rape kits sitting in evidence rooms across the United States. Both the Federal Government and the State of Michigan have made financial commitments that have allowed for the testing of 2,000 kits. Not surprising to law enforcement, this sample resulted in 785 CODIS hits (in 23 states), meaning that the perpetrator had previously been entered in the Convicted Offender and Arrestee Indices. Most sobering, 127 cases involved multiple offenses, signifying serial rape.
Funding commitments to date:
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has been a highly visible voice for this effort, reminding both the public and private sectors of the importance of both activating the testing and investigation of the 11,000+ kits and corresponding crimes, and legislative effort to ensure that this will never happen again.
The partnership between WCPO, DCC and MWF’s, along with an impressive group of initial funders represents one of the nation’s first efforts to right this wrong.
While the challenges facing southeast Michigan are numerous, it is not surprising to those who live and work there that this is the region to take a bold step to change the course of this national epidemic!
THE SCOPE OF THE CHALLENGE
The DCC’s diligence has results in reduction of the per kit testing cost, from $1,500 to $490, but this is just the first step. The establishment of a Cold Case Unit with adequate resource to handle this volume of investigations and an estimated 3,000 cases to be prosecuted will necessitate additional, highly-trained law enforcement and legal staffs, in addition to the latest technological tools to ensure maximum efficiency and performance in the investigations.
The economic realities of both Detroit and Wayne County strongly indicated that local government is not able to respond to this crisis, yet the impact of moving forward to create a Sexually Assault Free Detroit are critical to the region’s revitalization. In addition to profound effect on the perception of private citizens, business owners, corporate leaders and media, a safe and healthy Detroit will bring about significant economic benefits to the entire region.
The funding needed to launch a cold case unit to investigate and prosecute the resulting cases is estimated to be at $2 million per year for the next five years. This means that $8,000 will bring justice to ONE victim AND puts a dangerous criminal behind bars. Compare this to the long-term cost of one rape which has been proven to be $240,776.
ENOUGH SAID – A SHARED SOLUTION
The campaign to raise the funds remaining will enlist everyone from decision makers at major corporations who are able to make substantial contributions, to private citizens who fulfill their role by funding the testing of one kit, to those who make more modest gifts in response to grass roots and social media efforts.
The importance is this … that each prospective donor does what they can do to make a statement that each victim deserves justice, that we will not stand by and allow this disregard for human dignity and that the safety of our community is of paramount importance!
NOT in OUR CITY!
Tax-deductible donations may be made to Enough SAID at:
Michigan Women’s Foundation
333 West Fort Street, Suite 1920
Detroit, MI 48226
For questions, please contact Margaret Tallet, Chief Community Engagement Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 313-962-1920.