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SATI e-News: September 2, 2002

  

 
In This Issue:
      
    
  VOCA Funding Threatened
     
 

Rape crisis centers and other victim service agencies will face considerable funding cuts next year if provisions of the Senate Appropriations bill, S.2778 become law. S.2778 caps the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) fund at $566.5 million—a decrease of $58.7 million for fiscal year 2003, according to an alert from the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC). With Congress scheduled to adjourn October 4th, time is running out for action.
 
This drop in funding results from last year’s congressional change to the VOCA formula, which increased the amount of funds available to victim compensation. Unless the cap is raised, this increase of funding for victim compensation decreases the amount left for VOCA assistance—the funding for programs. (More information about this is available at http://www.ncvc.org/law/
in_congress/in_congress_fundingappropriations.htm
.)
 
With congressional appropriators drafting spending bills right now--and Congress scheduled to adjourn in one month--now is the time to act. Advocates are not the only ones who can make an impact. If you are a criminalist, forensic examiner, police officer or prosecutor, you know how important rape crisis advocates are to your work. Your voice will add considerable weight on Capitol Hill.
 
Since the Senate bill has already passed out of committee, proponents of lifting the VOCA cap are focusing efforts on House Appropriations members. Your voice is especially important right now if you live in the districts of one of the 65 Appropriations committee members, particularly the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and State (CJS), the current focal point of activity. CJS members include Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-VA), Harold Rogers (R-KY), Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), Charles H. Taylor (R-NC), Ralph Regula (R-OH), Tom Latham (R-IA), Dan Miller (R-FL), David Vitter (R-LA), Jose E. Serrano (D-NY), Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Robert E. “Bud” Cramer, Jr. (D-AL) or Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI).
 
We strongly suggest phone calls or faxes vs. mail or email. Mail delivery on Capitol Hill is still problematic due to the anthrax screening. Emails may go unread. Get on the phone, and let your voice be heard. Keep in mind that they should be more responsive to you since elections are so close. If you are unable to phone, send a fax instead.
 
Here are some talking points about VOCA:

  • Describe how your agency uses VOCA funds, and what services you would have to cut. Quantify wherever possible. How many victims did you serve annually for the past two years, how long is your waiting list, how many victims are likely to be impacted?
     

  • VOCA funding does not come from taxpayers. It is specifically collected from fines and other criminal penalties in federal criminal cases.
     

  • If the VOCA cap is not raised, funding for victim services will decrease, at a time when the need has increased and state funds are shrinking. Reference, if you can, how your community has seen more demands for services. You might mention your outreach to underserved populations, e.g. non-english speaking victims, the disabled, teens and others.
     

  • VOCA was created to help our nation meet the needs of victims of crime. The money is already in-hand and earmarked for victims. Congress must release additional VOCA funds now, to be used for the intended purposes, which are so great at this point in time.
     

  • Let them know that you, your agency, and the victims it serves will be watching this issue closely, and that you will remember their support (or lack thereof) when you vote in November.


To find the contact information for your representative, go to http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.html. If you do not know who your representative is, this page will help direct you by simply entering your zip code.
 
Please drop a line at deblandrew@aol.com and let us know which office you contacted, and what they said. We will continue to send out action alerts, but intelligence from your contact will help us develop the next contact strategy.

Sources:
 
Senate Bill S.2778, go to http://thomas.loc.gov and search on bill number S.2778.
 
"Federal Victim Assistance to Drop 15% Unless Congress Acts”, National Center for Victims of Crime
 
Testimony by National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) before Approps, CJS, www.ncvc.org/law/in_congress/in_congress_fundingappropriations.htm

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  Sex Offender Registry News in Utah and Michigan
      
  The Utah Department of Corrections will start notifying law enforcement officials in October of convicted sex offenders who have enrolled as students or been hired to work on campus.
 
Corrections was responding to recent amendments to Utah’s Sex Offender Registration Law, which were intended to bring the state into compliance with a new federal law, according to the Deseret News.
 
Law enforcement will identify campus-based offenders through new fields, which were added to the existing sex offender forms. Utah offenders are required to update the form annually. Machelle Rodrigues, registry director, told the Deseret News that approximately two-thirds of the 5,800 individuals listed on Utah’s registry comply with the law.
 
Utah college officials are struggling to determine how to respond to the information they will receive from law enforcement with regard to campus disclosure.
 
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that a federal appeals court ruling last month re-opened the Michigan's sex offender registry, which was shut down June 3rd of this year. The Michigan sex offender registry was closed after a convicted sex offender won a lawsuit that questioned the law’s constitutionality. See SATI e-news July 8 issue.
 
The current court decision allows the Michigan sex offender registries—both the public one and the more comprehensive database maintained by law enforcement—to continue until the case goes through appeal.
 
“Utah Gearing Up for Sex-Offender Law”, Deseret News, August 10, 2002
 
“Michigan Sex Offender Registry to Open,” Associated Press, August 22, 2002.
 
Michigan's sex offender registry: http://www.mipsor.state.mi.us

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  DNA Tests Link Slaying Defendant to Florida Case
     
  San Diego County prosecutors who are trying felon Scott Thomas Erskine for the 1993 torture, molestation and murder of two young boys, revealed that he has also been linked through DNA to a 1989 Florida slaying. In the Florida case, Erskine’s DNA was lifted from a cigarette butt that was found near the victim’s body, as reported by Copley News Service. Erskine has served eight years of a life sentence for the rape of a San Diego woman, a crime that occurred about six months after the boys were killed in 1993. As a teen-ager in San Diego county, Erskine was in and out of prison with convictions for sexual assaults against women, girls and boys. He was paroled at 22 in the mid-1980's.
 
Sources:
 
August 23, 2002 issue of DNA Legislation & News, published by Smith Alling Lane, a government affairs firm that provides nationwide governmental affairs services to Applied Biosystems: http://docs.appliedbiosystems.com/hid.taf
 
“DNA tests link slaying defendant to Florida case,” Copley News Service, August 21, 2002
 
San Diego Police Department, Sex Crimes Unit:

http://www.ci.san-diego.ca.us/police/about/sexcrimes.shtml

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  Single CODIS Hit Reveals Serial Sex Offender With Offenses Across Country
     
  In Oklahoma, the kidnapping and rape of a 9-year-old girl has been linked to a 36-year-old man through DNA tests that also turned up matches to other sexual assaults around the nation, according to the Associated Press. DNA tests identified the suspect as Steven James Selby, a 36 year-old white male. Selby has outstanding felony warrants and is still at large. In many of the cases, the suspect entered the victim's residence during the early morning hours or while the victim was sleeping and sexually assaulted her.
 
Tucson and San Diego Police Departments had identified the same DNA profile in a series of sexual assaults that occurred over the last couple of years in San Diego, California and Tucson, Arizona. Oklahoma was the third state to identify the same DNA profile in the sexual assault of a 9-year-old girl. Sparks Police Department (Nevada) investigated a sexual assault involving a young girl in the spring of 2001. In that case, detectives identified a possible suspect and his DNA was obtained from the suspect's residence after he fled.
 
Apparently, the suspect DNA was only recently entered into the National DNA (CODIS) Database, which provided investigators in Oklahoma, Arizona and California with the much sought after identity of their assailant.
 
Sources:
 

"Wanted suspect linked to girl's rape." The Associated Press State & Local Wire, August 20, 2002.
 
August 23, 2002 issue of DNA Legislation & News, published by Smith Alling Lane, a government affairs firm that provides nationwide governmental affairs services to Applied Biosystems: http://docs.appliedbiosystems.com/hid.taf
 
San Diego Police Department, Sex Crimes Unit:
http://www.ci.san-diego.ca.us/police/about/sexcrimes.shtml

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  Harvard Raises Standard of Proof in Rape/Sexual Assault Cases
   
  Harvard students are returning to campus this fall to find a change in campus judicial policy that they know little about, but which is already at the center of a national controversy and under federal investigation.
 
The new policy, slated to go into effect this fall, requires eyewitnesses, physical evidence, and other “sufficient independent corroboration” before allowing an investigation of a sexual assault complaint to go forward.
 
Although corroboration has long been deemed unnecessary in criminal courts for cases of sexual assault, recent state and federal courts have ruled that colleges have no obligation to provide the same standard of due process that students would receive in a court of law if they were to report the offense to local police.
 
Harvard announced its new policy after the faculty unanimously approved it in May. According to Harvard Magazine, the policy is the result of an investigation by Harry Lewis, Dean of Harvard College, to “investigate a sharply increased number of complaints of sexual assault.” Harvard responded to 7 complaints of sexual assault in 2001, compared to 13 during the previous decade.
 
Critics of Harvard's new policy believe it will achieve the College’s desired objective to decrease sexual assault reports. But they question the value of such a goal, as it seeks to accomplish it by discouraging victims from coming forward.
 
A legal challenge, filed this summer by lawyer Wendy Murphy, triggered a federal investigation, months before the policy was to go into effect. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights will determine whether the Harvard policy violates Title IX, the federal law barring gender-based discrimination in education, according to the Boston Globe.

Harvard’s new policy reverses the trend at other major colleges, many of which have adopted policies to allow accusers to present sexual assault cases even without concrete evidence. Such policies have long been promoted by feminist groups and other victim advocates, who argue that the cards are stacked against the victim, particularly in cases of “acquaintance rape,” which comprise the majority of campus sexual assaults, and for which witnesses are simply not available.

In challenging the Harvard policy, Murphy told the Globe that she hopes to head off the possibility of other colleges and universities adopting the Harvard model.

Sources:
 

“Adjudicating Sexual Assault Cases,” Harvard Magazine, July/August 2002
 
“Harvard to require more proof in sex cases,” Boston Globe, May 8, 2002.
 
“US probe expected of Harvard policy on sexual assault,” Boston Globe, August 6, 2002.
 
“Harvard Sex Policy Probed,” Associated Press, August 6, 2002.
 
“Facts about New Ad Board Procedure for Peer Disputes,” Prepared by the Office of the Dean of Harvard College
 
“Information on Harvard College Procedures for Handling Student Peer Disputes”
 

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  Innovative Police Work Yields Results: Miami-Dade Police Dept. Creates Award-Winning Sexual Crimes Clearing House
     
  The Miami-Dade Police Department launched a project in July 1999 that attempted to fill a void in intelligence sharing among local law enforcement agencies about serial sex offenders. A little over two years later, the Sexual Crimes Clearing House (SCCH) has generated numerous success stories, increased cooperative efforts among South Florida law enforcement agencies, and has been recognized as a model program.
 
Housed within Miami-Dade PD’s Sexual Crimes Bureau, The SCCH is a centralized intelligence entity that allows dozens of Florida jurisdictions to share data about sex crimes. A data entry form accepts information about the incident location and time, victim characteristics, offender’s description, modus operandi (MO), and a synopsis of the crime. A specific database was created to track subjects of exposures and lewd and lascivious exhibitions.
 
The SCCH accepts sex crime data from any local agency and enters this into one central database, increasing the likelihood of identifying a serial offender. The objectives are the reduction of sexual assaults and enhanced prosecution of sex offenders. The SCCH significantly enhances shared communication between police agencies by linking cross-jurisdictional cases and encouraging networking and the sharing of viable leads by hosting monthly intelligence meetings.
 
The SCCH is unique in that it not only assists in the identity of subjects of sexual offenses that occur within the jurisdiction of Miami-Dade PD, but also aids investigators from 30 other municipalities in Miami-Dade County. The SCCH also works in conjunction with their neighboring counties; Monroe, Broward, and Palm Beach.
 
“The SCCH is a great example of how cooperation can help solve sex crimes,” said Joanne Archambault, founder and president of Sexual Assault Training and Investigations (SATI). “DNA is an amazing tool, but the reality is, you don’t always have forensic evidence available,” she continued. “There is still so much room for the sort of creative thinking and cooperation they’re doing in South Florida, I hope we see more of it.”
 
The SCCH is staffed by one police sergeant, two intelligence analysts, two police crime analyst specialists and one police records specialist. The project was recently awarded the 2002 NACO Achievement Award and was recognized as a semi-finalist for the IACP Webber Seavey Award. It has been nominated for the Innovations in American Government and Rocky Pomerantz awards. For further information about the SCCH, contact Sergeant Dehlia Bailey at (305) 477-1112, ext. 289 or e-mail her at dbailey@mdpd.com

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  Miami-Dade Crime Lab Supports Work of SCCH
     
 

The work of the Sexual Crimes Clearing House (SCCH) is enhanced by the Miami-Dade Police Department Crime Laboratory Bureau, which provides forensic analysis of criminal cases for more than 30 local Police Departments.
 
In 2001 alone, the laboratory had approximately 60 CODIS hits that aided police in their investigations. Recently, the Crime Laboratory and the SCCH have made a concerted effort to enhance communication in order to have immediate notification when a forensic hit is made through DNA analysis.
 
Another innovative program is their Volunteer Swab DNA Program. Possible suspects are approached to voluntarily provide oral reference standards. The subject signs a consent form and the swabs are itemized and packaged for analysis by a laboratory serologist. The samples are out-sourced to a private laboratory and a case-working Criminalist at the Miami-Dade Crime Laboratory reviews the data obtained. The DNA profiles are maintained in an index of the Miami-Dade Forensic DNA database where they are searched against DNA profiles obtained from evidence submitted from other cases. For additional information, contact Lesley Kenyon, DNA Specialist, at lkenyon@mdpd.com.

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  Boston Crime Lab Receives Accreditation
     
  The following DNA news item has been reprinted with permission from DNA Legislation & News, published by Smith Alling Lane, a government affairs firm that provides nationwide governmental affairs services to Applied Biosystems: http://docs.appliedbiosystems.com/hid.taf
 
The Boston Police Crime Laboratory received national accreditation (July 1, 2002) as officials launched an unprecedented effort to identify hundreds of DNA profiles from sexual assault cases without a suspect. Of the 1,000 sexual assault cases without a suspect dating back to 1984, investigators believe they will be able to test 250 for DNA profiles. The unit has already tested 15 cases and matched profiles to two convicted sexual offenders and linked four assaults to the same identified person. The BPD lab has linked suspects’ DNA profiles from Florida, Maine, Connecticut and Virginia to crimes in Boston.
 
“Boston Police Crime Lab Gets Accreditation”, The Boston Herald, July 2, 2002.

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  San Diego Sex Crimes Unit Posts New Documents to Website
     
  Have you been tasked to create a protocol for drug facilitated sexual assault or revise your policies and procedures for responding to sexual assault in your community?  
 
The San Diego Police Department's Sex Crimes Unit (SCU) and other members of the San Diego County Sexual Assault Response Team have developed numerous model programs over the last few decades that have been recognized nationally. To assist other agencies, the San Diego Police Department SCU has posted to its web site these and other protocols and forms, including the Sex Crimes Unit's Operations Manual, which can assist organizations responding to sexual violence. To view these resources, please visit http://www.ci.san-diego.ca.us/police/about/proresources.shtml

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  Save the Date:
  Third International Conference on Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Stalking:  April 23-25, 2003, San Diego, California 
   
  For a list of other scheduled conferences and training events, please view the Training Schedule.
   
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