U.S. flag

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

Systems Change Analysis of SANE Programs: Identifying the Mediating Mechanisms of Criminal Justice System Impact

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2009
201 pages
This project determined whether adult sexual assault cases in a midwestern community were more likely to be investigated and prosecuted after the implementation of a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program; and if so, the "critical ingredients" of the SANE program that contributed to this effect.
The 12-year analysis of sexual-assault case legal outcomes found that more of these cases were resolved through guilty pleas or convictions after the implementation of the SANE program, and the researchers were reasonably sure these changes could be attributed to the program rather than other factors. SANEs impact was related to two factors. First, the SANE program identified and preserved high-quality medical forensic evidence and provided ongoing case consultation with criminal justice practitioners. Police and prosecutors knew that if a case went to court, SANEs would not only be available to testify, but would also be proficient expert witnesses who could explain the exam findings to a judge or jury. With this supportive base of evidence and assurance of expert support, police gained more confidence in the quality of their investigations, e.g., having more evidence available and more qualified medical personnel available for interviews. Consequently, in the post-SANE era, it was more likely that prosecutors had stronger cases for plea negotiations or trial. Second, SANEs had an important indirect role in preparing sexual assault survivors to participate in the legal processing of their case. By providing sexual assault survivors with services, referrals, and information pertinent to their emotional and physical health, SANEs helped the survivors to gain confidence in their capacity to meet the challenges of participation in the criminal justice processing of their cases. The project involved six separate and interrelated studies. The methods and results of each of the studies are presented in this report. 10 figures, 9 tables, 106 references, and appended data-collection instruments

Date Published: January 1, 2009