As of July 19, 2009 sexual assault survivors in Texas have the right to a sexual assault forensic exam without first making a law enforcement report. The Non-Report Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (NRSAFE) Program was created by HB 2626 and became law in July, 2009. Many communities are uninformed about the new NRSAFE Program which allows sexual assault survivors throughout Texas to obtain sexual assault forensic examination at no cost and without making a report to law enforcement. This program is a new strategy designed to increase the low reporting and prosecution rate of sexual assault. Non-report sexual assault examinations balance the needs of the victims and the criminal justice system by allowing survivors to preserve important evidence to use against their attackers and still take the time they need to decide whether to report. The NRSAFE Program is a major shift in operations for law enforcement, sexual assault nurse examiners, rape crisis center advocates, and for sexual assault victims themselves. Program evaluation is necessary to identify the service gaps within the NRSAFE Program and make recommendations for improved service delivery to victims. While it is expected that this program will result in increased sexual assault reporting rates, some victims will still not report and will remain unidentified. To maximize the potential of this program, a thorough examination is necessary.

The overall goal of the evaluation is to determine the impact, effectiveness and efficacy of the new state law establishing the Non-Report Sexual Assault Evidence Program. The evaluation will assess the system of collecting and storing sexual assault forensic evidence in cases that are not reported to law enforcement and to identify service gaps within the Non-Report Sexual Assault Evidence Program.

The IDVSA team will work with a group of experts from the field to develop the most appropriate way to move forward with the evaluation component of this project. It is anticipated that the evaluation plan will involve a blending of qualitative and quantitative data gathering. Qualitative data will be gathered from key informants through focus groups and interviews. The IDVSA team will make at least three site visits in order to conduct focus groups and interviews. Quantitative data will be gathered from a broad range of practitioners by survey. So as not to overburden direct service providers, it is expected that existing mechanisms for data collection will be utilized, such as existing Department of Public Safety data.

Sponsor: Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) / Texas Gov’s Office Criminal Justice Division