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Improving Forensic Sexual Assault Examinations

Date Published
September 8, 2013

Investigations into sexual assault crimes often do not result in convictions for a variety of reasons. Law enforcement agencies do not refer every case to prosecutors, and prosecutors do not pursue every case, often due to inadequate evidence. Of those cases that are prosecuted, many fail to reach a finding of guilt.

NIJ's evaluation of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program found that it resulted in more cases progressing further, including an increase in the percentage of cases that eventually resulted in guilty pleas or convictions. The researchers concluded that SANE programs provide quality evidence in a timely way that can help shape the course of an investigation. SANE programs exist in every state, with about 500 programs in all.

In 2012, NIJ and the Office for Victims of Crime gathered a team of practitioners, researchers and survivors for a research forum to explore gaps in the existing research related to the technical aspects of sexual assault medical forensic examination (SAMFE). Forum participants recommended that research efforts focus on gathering basic data from across the country about the evidence being collected, the collection techniques and technology used, evolving DNA technology, the instruction that SAMFE kits provide, and the use of telemedicine in SAMFE.

Learn more from the Summary of Research Questions Identified Through the Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examination Research Forum (pdf, 24 pages).

Date Published: September 8, 2013