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

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2009
25 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, which "critical ingredients" of the SANE program contributed to the improvements in sexual assault case-processing.
The project found that the increases in adult sexual assault case investigations and prosecutions in the post-SANE era were due to two separate but mutually reinforcing pathways of influence. First, in its work bearing upon the legal processing of sexual assault cases, the SANE program concentrated on identifying and preserving high-quality medical forensic evidence, education and training, and ongoing case consultation in interaction with criminal justice practitioners. In addition, police and prosecutors in the county knew that if a case went to court, the SANEs would be not only available to testify, but 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. 3 tables and 15 references

Date Published: January 1, 2009