Archive for March, 2011
They say to write about what you know and Linda Fairstein, the former New York County District Attorney Special Victims Unit Chief Prosecutor certainly knows the subjects that she fills her pages with. In this part of our interview, continued from our post on Friday, Fairstein talks to me about the evolution of the rape kit, what it was like to be prosecuting cases as the science around DNA was beginning to take hold and her thoughts on the backlog of untested rape kits.
Sarah Tofte: So, I know that rape kits were around slightly before DNA testing became available.
Linda Fairstein: Yes.
ST: Could you talk a little bit about this? One thing I find very interesting in general about the backlog, which I’ll get to, is the amount of care that has gone into evolving the rape kits so that they keep up with technology, what we’re learning from the criminal justice system and what we need from it. Sometimes there’s a bit of a disconnect between how much care has gone into creating a process of integrity and quality of evidence, efficiency in collection and compassion and care for the victim and what happens after–for it to just then sit More >
I recently had a chance to sit down with bestselling crime novelist, former Sex Crimes Unit chief prosecutor of the New York County District Attorney and staunch advocate for rape kit reform, Linda Fairstein. Despite her non-stop schedule around the March 1st paperback release of HELL GATE, Linda was able to provide me with a thoroughly fascinating account of what it was like to lead the New York County District Attorney Sex Crimes prosecution unit for 26 years, her well-informed thoughts on rape kit reform and insight into how she sits down to write her best-selling novels. This is the first of our three-part interview. Be sure to check back over the coming days for the rest.
Sarah Tofte: Thank you for taking the time to talk today me today. First of all, I would love to learn why you became a prosecutor.
Linda Fairstein: It was a very different time, as many women know from their mothers, aunts and grandmothers. There were many professions that were closed to women in those days. I went to Vassar College and I was the last all-women’s class. I went there because it had a fabulous liberal arts education and the English Department was very strong. More >
I recently spoke with Kimberly Hurst, the Executive Director of the Wayne County Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner’s (SAFE) Program, who told me about her work starting Detroit’s SAFE program and caring for victims of sexual assault.
Sarah Tofte: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. Would you talk about your current work and how you got here?
Kimberly Hurst: I am the Executive Director for the Wayne County Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner’s Program. I founded the program in 2006, and we are the only non-profit provider of sexual assault exams in Detroit. We are the largest SAFE program in the state and the busiest. We provide medical and forensic care, as well as community- based advocacy and crisis intervention services. We provide a comprehensive and compassionate continuum of care in order to improve the community’s response to sexual assault and set a higher a standard.
I am a licensed physician’s assistant and my training is in Emergency Medicine. I have been practicing for ten years. When I was in school, I had a strong interest in the forensics and the pathology. I had done a rotation doing autopsies and More >