The guidelines emphasize that the rape victim's physical and emotional needs to be met and given precedence over criminal justice considerations, the Times reports.
New York, NY (PRWEB) May 16, 2013
The Department of Justice has put together new national guidelines for forensic examinations in sexual assault cases. According to an April 24 news report in The New York Times, the recommendations, which have been revised from those issued in 2004, are aimed at establishing voluntary standards for care when rape victims seek assistance at hospitals or medical centers. The guidelines emphasize that the rape victim's physical and emotional needs to be met and given precedence over criminal justice considerations, the Times reports.
The recommendations, which are mandatory standards for practitioners in federal prison or the military, move away from a "prosecutorial approach" where more emphasis is placed on the need for victims to collaborate with law enforcement, the report states. The guidelines stemmed from research findings, which demonstrate that victims are more likely to cooperate with the authorities if they receive support, the article states.
Another important aspect of the recommendation is that rape victims be offered emergency contraception or at least information regarding how to immediately obtain such medication, the Times reports. The new protocol offers detailed recommendations on how evidence should be collected, what equipment should be used and how law enforcement, prosecutors, victims' advocates, and medical professionals should take a team approach.
New York personal injury lawyer Kenneth A. Wilhelm said he welcomes these new national guidelines. "Rape victims are human beings first and these recommendations underscore that important fact. They must be treated in a humane and sensitive manner. They should first receive the support and comfort they need."
It is important to have clearly defined standards when it comes to sexual assault evidence collection, Wilhelm said. "When we have these types of guidelines, everyone is on the same page and knows precisely what resources they need and what actions they must take. They know what the minimum standards and protocols are."
About the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm
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