Case File Review
SVJI@MNCASA created What Do Sexual Assault Cases Look Like in Our Community? A SART Coordinator’s Guidebook for Case File Review as a step-by-step guide that leads SART coordinators through the SVJI process of reviewing law enforcement case files. In this toolkit, you will find an effective process for identifying areas where your SART is successful in its response to victims and areas where your SART can improve. Each of the core agencies (Law Enforcement, Medical, Prosecution, Advocacy, and Probation) will learn specific information about their response that can be further developed or sustained for an optimum response to victims. Throughout the case file review process, SARTs learn about their actual response to victims versus what they believe is happening during the response. The toolkit provides insights into how to make connections that help improve the criminal justice process for victims and agencies, while also helping teams discover a multitude of opportunities and best practices to explore. Case file review can provide evidence to support necessary changes in policy and practice. This toolkit demonstrates Case file review as an evaluative method for SARTs by highlighting the process followed, insights raised, and lessons learned from the review of three pilot sites.
What is Case File Review?
Case file review is a specific type of document review that is particularly useful in the sexual assault field. It is the systematic process of examining case files, and identifying compliance with or deviance from established policies and protocols. Case file review also can include a determination of gaps and barriers to an effective response. Case file review is meant to allow SARTs to collaboratively look at the broader systemic improvement, not to pinpoint a specific case or a specific person/agency.
Case file review allows teams to look deeply at the documentation of a sexual assault investigation, which is the prosecutor’s first introduction to the victim’s account, suspect’s account (if there is one), and the evidence gathered in the case. These documents are the primary--and sometimes only--source used by prosecutors to determine whether to prosecute the reported crime.
Tools You Can Use
Why Might Our SART Want to Review Cases?
Teams have many different reasons why they might want to review cases. Some of these reasons include:
- To evaluate current policies and practices of SART agencies.
- To identify and implement strategies for sexual assault cases to be more successfully investigated and documented.
- To create new resources that will assist officers in sexual assault case response, investigation, and report writing.
- To develop a shared response protocol that addresses gaps and barriers present in the jurisdiction of SART agencies.
- To pinpoint system improvements by reviewing case files, ultimately improving prosecution rates and the likelihood of victims reporting to law enforcement.
- To take advantage of the current heightened awareness regarding sexual violence and the increasing amount of public attention that has been placed on how the criminal justice system has handled sexual assault cases.
Interested in Learning More?
If you have questions, please contact us for assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can provide unique resources and technical assistance to help guide teams through the process.
- What Can We Talk About? A guidebook for how sexual assault response teams discuss sexual assault cases. (2012) Sexual Violence Justice Institute at the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Contact email@example.com to access this and other resources on case file review and case conversations.
- Resource on Text Analysis: Praxis Institutional Analysis
Note: Case file review or text analysis, is a core activity detailed in Praxis International’s method of Institutional Analysis, a process and set of tools for interagency teams to reform institutional structures that produce problematic outcomes in cases involving violence against women. Applied extensively to assess safety and accountability within the context of domestic violence, Praxis has conducted numerous in-depth case file review projects. SVJI@MNCASA sought Praxis’ guidance and input to develop strategies for case file review involving sexual assault crimes. SVJI appreciates the help and expertise of Praxis International.