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The new trial by ordeal: rape kits, police practices, and the unintended effects of policy innovation                



Author(s)Corrigan, Rose
Title The new trial by ordeal: rape kits, police practices, and the unintended effects of policy innovation
Source Law & Social Inquiry,Fall 2013, Vol 38, Issue 4, pp 920-949
Date 2013
Document type Journal article
Coverage USA
Summary This study explores the effectiveness of sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) programs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with representatives of rape crisis centres in six states: Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, South Carolina and Washington. A limitation of the study was that no interviews were conducted with police officials. It was found that SANE programs can provide opportunities for police obstruction that discourage rape reporting and investigation. Although no state requires a victim to have a SANE exam, police may not discuss the SANE exam as one of several options for the victim. It was also found that the emphasis on SANE programs means that post-rape medical care for victims is increasingly defined as forensic evidence collection and creates a strong association of the medical response to rape with the criminal justice system. Several advocates participating in the study suggested that as SANEs provide some free medical services police could be led to conclude that women may claim rape in order to access medication such as emergency contraception. A conclusion drawn was that SANE programs, although well-intentioned, could end up undermining fair and thorough investigation of sexual assault allegations.
Keywords Sexual assault; SANE; rape kits; police; advocates; rape crisis centres
Topic Sexual assault