Truth-Detection Devices and Victims of Sexual Violence: A Shortcut to Injustice

An overreliance on truth-detection devices and misunderstandings about the dynamics of sexual violence can correlate with a belief that their use with victims of sexual violence is the best method to conduct complete investigations even though such methods would never be entertained for victims of other types of crimes. This is alarming not only because the results of such tests are unreliable, but the very use of truth-detection devices with victims of sexual violence can do more harm to the victim and frustrate the pursuit of justice. While the utility of truth-detection tests for enticing suspects to agree to be interviewed has long been recognized, there is less appreciation that their use with victims of sexual violence is clearly irreconcilable with trauma-informed interviewing techniques designed to elicit victims’ fullest recollections of events while avoiding further harm. This article provides a brief overview on the his- tory and modern forms of truth-detection devices and discusses how the earliest concerns about their reliability and limitations continue to be valid today. It will discuss why truth-detection devices are inappropriate and how, in many jurisdictions, they are prohibited from being used when interviewing victims of sexual violence. Despite the reliability concerns, it will also be discussed how truth-detection devices remain a potentially useful tool during questioning of suspects.

Annotated Bibliography of Witness Intimidation Resources

This annotated bibliography compiles legal research, social science research, assessment, and best practices and policies for addressing witness intimidation. The first section reviews legal literature that analyzes the legal foundations of witness intimidation, including Supreme Court decisions, statutes, and relevant case law. The second section contains social science research on victims’ experiences of intimidation, as well as implementation of laws and policies to address the problem. The third section summarizes evaluative reports on witness intimidation dynamics in particular communities. The final section, contains best practices and policies to be implemented based on the assessment and research foundations described above.


Improving Witness Safety and Preventing Witness Intimidation in the Justice System – Benchmarks for Progress

The pervasive problem of victim/witness intimidation in the criminal justice system requires a strategy for change and firm commitments from leaders and practitioners alike. This resource includes tools for practitioners to use collaboratively within their communities. These tools provide criminal justice leaders with concrete guidance to implement best practices in preventing and responding to witness intimidation. The resource defines the problem, identifies concrete solutions, and outlines a process for assessing and improving witness safety.


Justice for Victims Behind Bars: Improving the Response to Cases of Sexual Abuse in Confinement

The passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in 2003 created not only a requirement that jurisdictions prevent and respond to incidents of sexual abuse in confinement, but firmly planted sexual abuse in confinement on the list of critical issues for criminal justice system officials across the country. This resource gives an overview of the PREA standards and outlines what an appropriate response to cases of sexual abuse in confinement requires. Professionals require relevant information on the PREA Standards, an understanding of the dynamics of sexual abuse (particularly those dynamics specific to abuse in the confinement setting), and collaboration among the professionals in the jurisdiction. The criminal justice system should consider victims’ safety, privacy, and well-being throughout the process, while ensuring they have access to information and services. Such a response keeps the focus on the actions, behaviors, characteristics, and intent of the abuser.

Justice for Victims Behind Bars Improving the Response to Cases of Sexual Abuse in Confinement

10 Strategies for Prosecuting Child Sexual Abuse at the Hands of a Family Member

The impact of sexual assault on a victim is devastating and the effects are long lasting. Victims of child sexual abuse may suffer physical injury, depression, self-destructive behavior, anxiety, feelings of isolation and stigma, shame, poor self-esteem, difficulty in trusting others, a tendency toward re-victimization, substance abuse, and sexual maladjustment. When the perpetrator is a family member, victims often suffer the emotional scars of guilt, betrayal and fear as well. Judges and juries unfamiliar with the dynamics of sexual assault may overlook offenders’ grooming tactics or misperceive common victim reactions to abuse as evidence of the victim’s lack of credibility. Prosecutors handling these cases face unique challenges. This article outlines ten strategies that will help prosecutors prepare and litigate cases of sexual abuse perpetrated against a child by a family member.


Investigating and Prosecuting Labor Trafficking: Exploitation for the Sake of the Bottom Line

Trafficking manifests in many areas of the labor market – including but not limited to – manufacturing, agriculture, construction, entertainment, service industries and domestic labor, often overlapping with sexual violence. It is critical to connect victims of labor trafficking, involuntary servitude, and debt bondage with critical and comprehensive services while also focusing on holding offenders and business entities accountable. This webinar highlights the importance of collaboration with allied professionals to support a victim-centered response and an offender-focused approach. It also explores a variety of best practices and provides law enforcement and prosecutors with the tools to refine their own strategies

This webinar recording should qualify prosecutors for 1.5 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) credits. Prosecutors are encouraged to contact their state bar association in reference to application requirements and related fees.