This article includes the findings of an NIJ-funded study examining how wrongful convictions affect the original crime victims. Researchers from ICF International conducted in-depth studies to identify the shared experiences and service needs of the original crime victims in 11 cases of wrongful conviction. In total, researchers interviewed 33 individuals:
Eleven victims (including immediate family members in cases of homicide)
Four service providers
Three law enforcement officers
Two family members
Two individuals who provided victims with legal advice
Two innocence commission members
The study found that wrongful convictions have a significant impact on the original crime victims and exposed a lack of services available to them. The researchers also noted that although we have made significant strides over the past three decades to identify wrongfully convicted individuals and to help them gain their freedom and transition to life after exoneration, additional research is still needed to fully understand the experiences and address the needs of the original crime victims during this process.
The Violence Against Women Act of 2005 requires that sexual assault victims must not be required to file law enforcement reports in order to receive free exams. This study examined how states are meeting these goals. It found that victim compensation funds are by far the largest funder of exams across the country. In the 19 jurisdictions included in case studies, victims generally received free exams without having to report if they did not want to. However, barriers to even accessing the exam prevent some victims from seeking help.
This report describes the successes and challenges of reducing backlogs of DNA evidence in the nation’s crime laboratories and describes some of the solutions that are increasing lab efficiencies. Data was collected from more than 120 public laboratories that receive grants under NIJ’s DNA Backlog Reduction Program.
This curriculum provides information about the medical forensic sexual assault examination, and explores some of the legal issues involved in expert testimony and evidence provided through a forensic exam. It addresses some of the limitations on the scope of SANE testimony, as well as limitations as to what the examination findings can actually prove.
Issue #19 of the Strategies in Brief Newsletter discusses the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the collection and use of DNA from violent offenders to help solve cold cases. This decision resolved disagreement between federal and state court systems.
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