U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Evaluating Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Payment

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2010, $525,464)

The Urban Institute's (UI) Justice Policy Center (JPC), Dr. Lisa Newmark of George Mason University, and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) propose to examine how states and communities are responding to VAWA 2005 provisions. Although the provision of free sexual assault forensic exams (SAFEs) was part of the original Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) legislation in 1994, the law permitted states to condition free exams based on victim cooperation with law enforcement. Since then, it has been clear that not all victims across the country were being provided exams free-of-charge and that in several places victims were indeed required to report assaults to police before gaining access to SAFEs. Legislative changes in VAWA 2005 were designed to correct these practices, with federal STOP grant program eligibility requiring (1) that sexual assault victims must not be charged for forensic medical exams; and (2) that victims must not be required to file a law enforcement report in order to receive a free SAFE. States were given until January 5, 2009 to come into compliance with new federal mandates.

This study will provide both a national and local perspective on the extent to which VAWA 2005 requirements are being adhered to. The research design includes multiple sources of data and combines both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods. The following will be conducted: a survey of crime victim compensation administrators in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico; a survey of all state STOP administrators; a survey of the census of state and local sexual assault service providers across the country (n=1,295); and case studies in six states (including two local jurisdictions within each state for interviews with victim service providers, law enforcement, prosecutors, and medical personnel, as well as focus groups with sexual assault victims). Results of this study will provide critical information to the field about: (1) compliance with payment mandates regarding SAFEs, while at the same time addressing victims' needs, regardless of their intent to report the crime to law enforcement or cooperate with prosecution; (2) supplement technical assistance efforts and identify training opportunities that can increase compliance with payment mandates and maintain the integrity of the forensic material gathered during SAFEs; and (3) identify implementation challenges and best practices for overcoming these challenges.


Date Created: August 29, 2010