Understanding DNA Testing in Sexual Assaults: NIJ's Ongoing Work in Massachusetts

Sidebar to the article Solving Sexual Assaults: Finding Answers Through Research by Nancy Ritter

Last year, NIJ awarded $97,000 to the University of Illinois to study the role of forensic evidence in the criminal justice outcomes of sexual assault cases. Researchers are looking at a random sample of 436 sexual assaults that occurred in 2008-2010 in Massachusetts. The goals of the study are to:

  • Provide a detailed description of forensic evidence to determine the frequency of different types of evidence
  • Assess the timing of when forensic evidence is available with respect to arrests and charges filed
  • Examine the relationship among forensic evidence, arrests and charging
  • Analyze the role of forensic evidence, particularly in cases with child victims and cases in which the perpetrator is a stranger
  • Compare the impact of sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) versus non-SANE evidence collectors on arrests and charges filed

The researchers will use a variety of methods (including descriptive and bivariate statistics and logistic regression analyses) to analyze data from three sources: mandatory reports by medical providers collected in the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security database, non-electronic crime lab data, and police incident data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System and a Boston Police Department database.

Findings from the study are expected in 2013.

Back to: Solving Sexual Assaults: Finding Answers Through Research.

Date Created: June 15, 2012