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Mississippi clinic updates testing kit to assist victims of sexual assault

Mississippi Center for Violence Prevention
Photo courtesy of the Mississippi Center for Violence Prevention

The Bridge Forensics Clinic, operated by the Mississippi Center for Violence Prevention, has developed updated evidence-collection tools that will be used to assist law enforcement and victims of sexual abuse.

During a Thursday interview on The Gallo Show, Beth McCord, a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) at the clinic, explained that with advancements in forensic examination, improving their sexual evidence collection methods — commonly referred to as a rape kit — was necessary, given the kit had not been updated in 15 years.

“These sexual assault nurse examiners are using these kits every day when they’re collecting the samples and we just saw that there were a lot of things that didn’t line up with the current, evidence-based practice with our crime lab,” McCord said. “The way they can test evidence has gotten better. They have improved systems of doing things, and so our kit just needed to line up with that.”

Though there is not a 100 percent guarantee that DNA will be collected in the process, the updated kit provides a greater chance for a sample to produce results that will lead to the conviction of a sexual offender.

According to Sandy Middleton, Executive Director of the Center for Violence Prevention, a vital aspect to the recovery of many sexual assault victims is the assurance that their abuser is behind bars.

“For a lot of victims, justice is an important part of their recovery. It’s our opinion that if we’re able to collect the best samples or to be able to identify DNA — that increases their chances of justice,” Middleton noted.

The updated kit has 19 steps, two fewer than the previous method. The goal is to have this kit manufactured by the end of 2022 and available for distribution by early 2023.

The full interview with McCord and Middleton can be watched below.

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