Project Role

Researchers bring data collection and analysis skills to the project. They help the working group by obtaining sound information that can be used to understand the local situation and to design reforms. Diagnosing problems before responding to them can help set the stage for successful changes. Trying to implement reforms with an inaccurate or a limited understanding of the problem can produce negative outcomes. Researchers also share unique knowledge about the findings from other studies that are relevant to the current work. Sound research is a core component of action-research.

The Sam Houston State University (SHSU) team is the lead research partner on the project and has produced reports that have generated discussions about how to prioritize sexual assault kits (SAKs) for testing, sparked ideas about setting up cold case squads, created new training opportunities, provided information about the way investigators and prosecutors use DNA evidence, and shed light on barriers to effective collaborations between victim advocates and justice system professionals. SHSU researchers are also measuring multiple outcomes that result when previously unsubmitted SAKs are tested.

The University of Texas at Austin (UT) research team has collected unique data through interviews with sexual assault survivors, victim advocates, and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs). These data have informed group discussions and procedural changes to the way evidence is packaged in sexual assault kits. UT researchers are leading a significant effort to evaluate methods of victim notification that will be used in Houston and to evaluate the new Houston Police Department Justice Advocate position.

Contact Information

William Wells, PhD
Lead Project Research Partner
Sam Houston State University
Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology

Noël Bush-Armendariz, PhD
Professor and Director
The University of Texas at Austin
Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

Caitlin Sully, MSSW
Project Director
The University of Texas at Austin
Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault