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Use of Closed-Circuit Television and Videotaped Testimony in Child Sexual Abuse Trials: An Evaluation of BJA's (Bureau of Justice Assistance's) Funding Program; Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1996
102 pages
This is the final report on an evaluation of a Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) grant to States to provide assistance in purchasing closed-circuit television, videotape equipment, and/or training on that equipment for use in child sexual abuse trials.
The project's methodology included a telephone survey of the 26 States that received funds (approximately $38,000 each); an in-depth telephone survey of jurisdictions to assess the effectiveness of the technologies; a 50-State legal analysis and analysis of appellate court cases; and site studies of four States that have implemented a promising strategy for others to replicate, either in distribution, administration or installation of equipment, or in providing training in legal, interview, or technical set-up skills. Results show that in compliance with BJA requirements, the States conducted a needs assessment to determine how to distribute the technologies, but many States selected an informal assessment process. Also, most States elected to distribute the funds on a countywide rather than a statewide basis. Funds were fairly equally divided between the purchase of closed-circuit versus videotape equipment. Many States also financed training. Many States experienced delay in using BJA funds and had to overcome obstacles to the implementation of the funding. The evaluation gave high marks to the impact and usefulness of both videotape and closed-circuit equipment. Most prosecutors said that the technologies were available and useful when needed, and they generally perceived that the technologies reduced trauma to the child. Many States were creative in the use of the funds and stretched the limited BJA dollars by combining these dollars with other Federal or State funds targeted for children's issues. Exemplary State programs are profiled. Appendixes include charts that summarize legislation regarding the use of closed-circuit television and videotaped testimony as well as the results of surveys with local prosecutors who have used the equipment. Also included are copies of two needs assessment forms, an example of a court rule, and the Virginia State protocol for using closed-circuit equipment, along with a brochure that explains how to apply the closed- circuit statute. 12 references

Date Published: January 1, 1996