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July 3, 08

NEWS / Caprio Launches New Program to Protect Crime Victims

State Crime Victim Compensation Program will fund Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program to provide free exams, preserve evidence

(PROVIDENCE 7/2/08) General Treasurer Frank Caprio announced today that the Crime Victims Compensation Program has developed rules and regulations for a new program designed to help rape victims by covering the cost of emergency room forensic exams. The new regulations, developed in conjunction with Day One, the Providence based sexual assault and trauma center, will allow rape victims to receive an emergency room forensic exam, with the evidence being maintained in a sealed file, regardless of whether or not they decide to press charges.

The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program was developed by Day One and other partners in order to improve medical care to victims of sexual assault and to improve forensic evidence collection. SANEs are medical professionals who are given in-depth training on how to perform a forensic sexual assault exam. SANEs provide immediate, compassionate, and culturally sensitive examinations; ensure proper documentation of all evidence collected; distribute information so that victims of sexual assault can make informed decisions regarding their medical care and the legal steps they wish to pursue; make referrals to legal advocacy agencies; and act as a witness throughout the criminal justice process.

“Offering this program will protect the rights of sexual assault victims by covering the cost of an emergency room exam and allowing that exam to happen before they have to make any decision about reporting the crime,” said Caprio. “Obviously, we want to encourage crime victims to file a police report, but sexual assault victims are not always prepared to do that. This program recognizes the traumatic nature of sexual assaults and preserves the right of victims to pursue their legal options.”

“We are extremely pleased with Treasurer Caprio’s commitment to provide reimbursement for SANE exams through the Victim’s Compensation fund,” said Peg Langhammer, executive director of Day One. “We are confident that the accessability of SANEs, as well as the availability of these funds will lead to better medical care for victims and more extensive forensic evidence collection.”

In 2006, the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was changed to require all program administrators to ensure forensic exams are available to all sexual assault victims, without charge to the victim. While state Crime Victims Compensation programs were not required to step in and provide the funding for those exams, a number of state governments have moved to designate those programs as the payment source for the exams. Caprio said it only makes sense for the state to fund the SANE program, as no other crime victims in Rhode Island are required to pay for the collection of evidence in their cases. He noted that the state’s Crime Victims Compensation program is funded by federal grant dollars and court assessments charged to criminal defendants.

Grants from the United Way and the Rhode Island Foundation have allowed Day One to pay for the initial costs associated with the SANE program in terms of personnel support and the training of nurses. The organization has also developed a written operating protocol to standardize the response and practice of SANEs statewide.
Related links

Department or agency: RI Office of the General Treasurer

Online: http://www.treasury.ri.gov/

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