Posts tagged Linda Fairstein
In February, Women’s eNews ran a commentary by Wendy Murphy which argued that testing the backlog of rape kits– the evidence collected from victims’ bodies that is waiting to be tested in storage facilities across the United States–is a waste of resources and violates the privacy of victims.
Last month, former New York City chief sex crimes prosecutor, best-selling author and Joyful Heart board member Linda Fairstein wrote a brilliant rebuttal in response to Murphy’s piece published in The Daily Beast (a longer version was published on the Backlog Blog). Sarah Tofte pointed to Linda’s article as necessary reading on testing the rape kit backlog and offered some thoughts on Wendy’s article in an opinion piece that was featured on Women’s eNews this week.
Follow the link below to read it.
This is last installment of my three-part interview with bestselling crime novelist, former Sex Crimes Unit chief prosecutor of the New York County District Attorney and advocate for rape kit reform, Linda Fairstein. Be sure to read the other two installments here and here.
Sarah Tofte: Back to the question of your career path and how you came to be a writer. What is it that gives you the ability to imagine the world to be different than it currently is?
Linda Fairstein: People always assume because I’ve done this work for so long that I must be a dark person. I’m very much an optimist, and I’m very upbeat. My work primarily is not with offenders and the bad guys and the perpetrators, it’s with people who’ve experienced the worst trauma you can have in a criminal setting. To be part of that solution in the early days and to this minute of being able to give them something, to know that there was a way to restore their dignity and to do it with compassion, that was what kept me there for a very long term.
Now when I went to college, my dream was to write–to become a writer–and I went to a More >
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 >
Charles Courtney, Jr., was arrested in Franklin County, Indiana in September 1996, for the knifepoint rape of his wife, Mary Jane, when she told him she wanted a divorce the night he returned from a trip on his job as a long-distance truck driver. Like defendants in many domestic violence cases, Courtney was offered a plea to a lesser charge of sexual battery. As such, his two-year sentence was far lighter than it would have been had he raped a stranger–a sad truth about many rapists whose victims are partners or acquaintances. That conviction earned the government the right to put Courtney’s genetic profile in the FBI’s convicted-offender databank. He was released from prison on January 4, 1998.
Three months later, a 21-year-old woman named Amberly Lakes was kidnapped in a parking lot outside a grocery store in Fairfield, Ohio, and taken to a remote location where her unknown assailant raped her repeatedly at knifepoint. In 2001, Lakes’ case was solved when the evidence preserved during her medical exam after the attack yielded DNA that matched Charles Courtney’s profile. Even though her evidence kit had More >