The Wisconsin Chapter of the International Association of Forensic Nurses was honored to be present at today’s press release regarding a new bill detailing the collection and processing of Forensic Evidence Collection Kits for patients across Wisconsin.
Below is the response from our chapter regarding this bill.
“As a State Chapter of an International Association that provides care for victims of violence, Forensic nurses across the State of Wisconsin strive to improve the health of all individuals who are victimized by interpersonal violence. As we provide medical care, evidence collection and education to victims, we understand as members of the health community, we cannot ignore the consequences of violent behavior, as we see firsthand the damaging effects this type of victimization has on our society.
Historically, by working together, Forensic Nurses, Advocacy Centers, Law Enforcement Agencies and the Criminal Justice System can bring about change that successfully results in ensuring victims are provided with patient centered options that best suits thatpatient’s needs. The forensic nurse does this while showing respect and compassion throughout the entire length of that patient’s exam and helping to facilitate services for support throughout the criminal justice process.
On behalf of the forensic nurses in our state, we support this legislation, as it supports victims and their choices with their evidence. Victims may be afraid to seek care due to knowing the suspect or fear of victim blaming. This legislation gives these victims the option to have evidence collected and stored for preservation for up to 10 years anonymously.
This legislation also outlines the protection and immunity for forensic nurses, healthcare workers and healthcare facilities involved in evidence collection, in an effort to assist law enforcement officials. New standards which Law Enforcement must adhere to will strengthen and support community and state wide forensic nursing initiatives regarding kit collection. This legislative piece will assist Law Enforcement in maintaining accountability to this patient population.
By collaborating with Law Enforcement, the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the Wisconsin State Crime Lab, our goal is to ensure the prevention of future forensic evidence collection kit backlogs and to instill a timely and patient centered process for the collection and processing of kits.
It is important to note that the forensic nurses in our state are highly skilled, trained and are experts in the field of sexual and interpersonal violence. We take great pride in our work with all victims, regardless of the age, race, gender or other distinguishing factors. No one is turned away from our care or services. We have the ability to give survivors options to be heard as well as providing a network of support which puts the power back in the hands of the survivor. We are one of the beginning steps in their journey, but an important and powerful resource with the state.”
To view a video of the press conference,
Wisconsin Chapter of the International Association of Forensic Nurses Board of Directors Representatives
Michelle Zapinski, Treasure
Jamie Counsell, President
Courtney Bouthilet, Past President