Legislature Advances Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program
On Wednesday, July 27th the State Legislature's Joint Committee on Public Health favorably reported H. 878, relating to the certification of sexual assault nurse examiners and the collection of forensic evidence in cases of sexual assault and rape. The legislation would codify the SANE program into state law.
The SANE Program was started as a pilot project under the Department of Public Health in 1997. The program's mission is to provide sexual assault victims, ages 12 years and older, with forensic medical-legal exams that comport with the highest standards of quality, for the purpose of collecting crucial, time-sensitive evidence while simultaneously providing patients with immediate crisis intervention and other support services. Over the past eight years the program has trained hundreds of nurses, treated thousands of patients, and managed to now expand its services to pediatric victims of sexual assault.
The numbers tell it all: to date the SANE program has served over 3,000 rape victims. SANES have gathered the forensic evidence in over 60% of all rape kits sent to the Boston Police Department's Crime Lab, and over 50% of all kits sent to the State Police Crime Lab. Where SANE nurses have been called to testify in criminal cases, the conviction rate is over 95%. The Massachusetts SANE program serves as a national model for other states interested in starting a forensic nursing program.
The SANE program protects victims, by providing excellent medical care, and furthers the interests of public safety by providing forensic evidence that serves to exonerate the innocent and convict the guilty. The SANE Program is an inspiring example of the good that dedicated professionals, working with the support of an enlightened government, can accomplish.