Just a Guide to Sexual Assault Response Reform

Just a Guide to Sexual Assault Response Reform

Original Release Date: April 30, 2021

In episode three of our 2021 Sexual Assault Awareness Month mini season, Just Science sat down with Dr. Patricia Melton, co-director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Training and Technical Assistance program, to discuss a new resource that will help criminal justice practitioners support sexual assault response reform.  

Creating a comprehensive, improved response to sexual assault requires policies and practices that are grounded in trauma-informed, victim-centered approaches. Criminal justice practitioners must invest in methodologies that foster multidisciplinary team engagement, training, and the implementation of technologies associated with tracking sexual assault forensic evidence. Dr. Melton has created a guide that addresses the complexities of sexual assault response reform. This resource highlights real-world solutions to foster improved resolutions to sexual assault cases while ensuring support to survivors. 

Sexual assault investigations can be exceptionally complex. As such, it’s important that forensic practitioners, investigators, and multidisciplinary teams have the best resources available to them. Dr. Melton and her team have been working on a guide that demonstrates a holistic approach to sexual assault response reform. Listen along as she discusses the value of multidisciplinary teams and her new resource, Enacting an Improved Response to Sexual Assault: A Criminal Justice Practitioner’s Guide, in this episode of Just Science.

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].

Listen to or download the episode here:

View or download the episode transcript here:

Guest Biography

Patricia Melton, Ph.D., is nationally recognized for her work in sexual assault reform and forensic DNA analysis. She develops and implements training, technical assistance, and educational strategies that promote the derivation of polices focusing on sexual assault evidence to solve violent crimes. Dr. Melton is currently the co-director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) project. In this capacity, she coordinates and directs the activities and deliverables that provide the requested training and technical assistance to the 32 jurisdictions awarded under the SAKI project. She also directs the implementation of the SAKI vision to additional jurisdictions addressing sexual assault reform through a nationwide promotion and education platform. Dr. Melton has more than a decade of experience in forensic DNA analysis, including expert witness testimony. Her knowledge and experience as a DNA forensic practitioner is integral to supporting other projects at RTI, including the National Institute of Justice (NIJ)–funded Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) and the NIJ-funded Sexual Assault Kit Processing Efficiency in Law Enforcement Agencies and Crime Labs. A focal point of her work has been to use research, training, and education to facilitate the adoption of recommendations and best practices that recognize the value of forensic evidence examined with current forensic DNA technology as part of sexual assault reform and obtaining justice for violent crimes. Additionally, Dr. Melton has a vested research interest in combatting human trafficking through education, training, technical assistance, and policy reform of local and state law enforcement task forces. Prior to joining RTI, Dr. Melton was a forensic DNA practitioner for the Department of Defense Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory and at the Baltimore County Police Department Forensic Services Section. In addition, she was an adjunct faculty member at Stevenson University and a faculty member at Western Carolina University. Dr. Melton remains active in the field of forensic science as both a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) and the American Society of Crime Lab Directors (ASCLD). She also maintains her status as an American Society of Crime Lab Directors Laboratory Accredited Board (ASCLD-LAB) assessor.

Learn more about Dr. Patricia Melton here.

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