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This eleventh episode of the season on “Research and Considerations for Sexual Assault Cases” in the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) Just Science podcast series is an interview with four Connecticut criminal justice professionals who discuss standardizing sexual assault kits (SAKs).
The four persons interviewed are Maureen Platt, State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Waterbury, Connecticut; Denise Covington, Program Manager at the Gail Burns-Smith Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner’s Program; Danielle Lindgren, Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Coordinator and Forensic Science Examiner; and Bonnie Bentley, Senior Assistant State’s Attorney in Connecticut. Background information for the interview notes that the standardization of SAKs limits variability in the collection and processing of sexual assault cases, enabling more reliable evidence collection by investigators. The members of this expert panel work in Connecticut, a state that has been successful in standardizing SAKs. They discuss how their state has improved the effectiveness of investigations and prosecutions of sexual assault cases. Each panel member first describes her professional responsibilities in the Connecticut criminal justice system. This is followed by their description of how and why they formed their multidisciplinary collaboration. They are in regular communication about the SAK process and updates that are needed. The areas in which they have cooperated include training of sexual assault forensic examiners in evidence collection in sexual assault cases, as well as the training of prosecutors and law enforce investigators about what forensic examiners do with evidence in SAKs. The work of this multidisciplinary team is guided by the Commission on the Standardization of Evidence Collection in Sexual Assault investigations. This Commission guides the multidisciplinary effort to standardize the criminal justice system’s response in sexual assault cases to provide effective victim services, law enforcement investigation, scientific forensic services, and prosecution in their individualized and cooperative policies and practice.