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Comparing Standard and Selective Degradation DNA Extraction Methods: Results from a Field Experiment with Sexual Assault Kits,

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A growing number of U.S. cities have large numbers of untested sexual assault kits (SAKs) in police property facilities. Testing older kits and maintaining current case work will be challenging for forensic laboratories, creating a need for more efficient testing methods. Methods: We evaluated selective degradation methods for DNA extraction using actual case work from a sample of previously unsubmitted SAKs in Detroit, Michigan. We randomly assigned 350 kits to either standard or selective degradation testing methods and then compared DNA testing rates and CODIS entry rates between the two groups. Results and conclusions: Continuation‐ratio modeling showed no significant differences, indicating that the selective degradation method had no decrement in performance relative to customary methods. Follow‐up equivalence tests indicated that CODIS entry rates for the two methods could differ by more than ±5%. Selective degradation methods required less personnel time for testing and scientific review than standard testing.
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Keywords: CODIS; DNA; forensic science; forensic testing; rape kits; selective degradation; sexual assault kits

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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