A new study that analyzed six U.S. states has concluded that there aren’t enough medical examiners to collect DNA evidence in hospitals, like the evidence collected after a woman reports being sexually assaulted. The problem is magnified in rural areas, the study found. The report was put together by the Government Accountability Office and it highlighted a number of weaknesses in how sex crimes are treated in the U.S. — weaknesses that are caused by a variety of reasons. For instance, high job turnover is a major problem. Of the six states studied — Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Oregon — Wisconsin had the biggest issue with turnover. The study found that of the 540 MEs trained in Wisconsin, only 42 were still in the position two years later. In Colorado, only one hospital has a medical examiner on duty 24 hours a day, and some people there have to drive up to an hour just to find a place that can administer a rape kit. The study’s lead author Katherine Iritani said that such circumstances can have a grim effect. “If you’re in the mountains in the winter, and you’re told you have to go somewhere else, that can be a big barrier,” she told The Washington Post. “Some victims never get tested.” The study’s authors advised placing more focus on rural communities because those are the sorts of place where rape investigations often end before they begin.
Read the full story at The Washington Post.