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This glossary was developed to standardize and create more ease in discussing a range of topics associated with investigating and prosecuting sexual assault and domestic violence.

A

ABI Genetic Analyzer: A highly sophisticated capillary electrophoresis instrument that analyzes STR [Short Tandem Repeats] fragments of DNA according to their length and generates data used for forensic DNA identification. Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms

Allele: One of many forms that a genetic marker at a particular locus may take. DNA markers may differ in size or in the arrangement of the molecules (A, T, C and G), resulting in two or more alleles. These differences make each person's DNA profile unique. The data typically shows two allele sizes (shown as numbers) at each locus for each person, one allele contributed by the person's biological mother and the other allele contributed by the biological father. By convention, when the two alleles at a locus are the same, the number is shown only once. Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms

Alternative Reporting Options: The term used to collectively refer to the numerous forms of reporting methods used across the nation. Alternative reporting options are distinguishable from a standard report made to law enforcement, which will trigger an investigation. Alternative reporting options are put into place to allow victims more control over the information they choose to share with law enforcement, if any, following a sexual assault. The term "alternative reporting options" could therefore be used to refer to a range of reporting methods, with names such as: "Jane Doe," "Restricted," "Anonymous," "Confidential," "Blind," or "Third Party" reports. Minnesota Model Policies for Forensic Compliance (2011).

Anonymous Reporting: The term most commonly used to refer to the process of sexual assault victims seeking services following the assault without sharing their identity with law enforcement or without making a standard report to law enforcement. There is no single format or definition for anonymous reporting across the nation. In some jurisdictions, victims seeking the medical forensic examination without reporting the assault to law enforcement are said to be electing their option to make an "anonymous report," or have "anonymous evidence" collected. In other jurisdictions, victims may directly or indirectly share some information with law enforcement about the assault, like the location, the date and time, or the perpetrator’s name, but keep their identity anonymous. These types of reports are sometimes referred to by other names, such as "Jane Doe," "Restricted," "Confidential," "Blind," or even "Third Party" reports. However, the two critical elements are: (1) whether the victim is personally talking with law enforcement, or the report is made by another person (a third party), and (2) whether law enforcement knows the identity of the victim but protects it as confidential, or if the victim is truly anonymous. It is far more common for law enforcement agencies to have a system for protecting victim confidentiality than truly anonymous reporting (law enforcement does not know the victim's identity). Minnesota Model Policies for Forensic Compliance (2011).

ASCLD/LAB American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board: An organization whose assessors inspect forensic labs for accreditation. Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms

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B

Biohazards: Materials that contain blood or other potentially infectious materials. These materials include many of those found in biological evidence, including semen, vaginal secretions, or any bodily fluid that is visibly contaminated with blood, and all bodily fluids in situations in which it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between bodily fluids as well as any unfixed tissue or organ from a human (living or dead) that can be collected at a crime scene and stored. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) (2012). Bloodborne Pathogens: Toxic and Hazardous Substances. 29 CFR 1910.1030

Biological Evidence: samples of biological material–such as hair, tissue, bones, teeth, blood, semen, or other bodily fluids–or evidence items containing biological material. Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

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C

Capillary Electrophoresis: A method in which DNA fragments are separated according to their sizes as they travel through a narrow polymer–filled tube. Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms

Case Conversion: The victim-initiated process of deciding to participate in a law enforcement investigation, after initially being unsure, unable, or unwilling to do so. This could mean that the victim is now ready to report the crime to law enforcement, if no report was previously made. If a report was already made (e.g., by a health care provider who conducted a medical forensic exam), this describes the process where the victim decides to personally talk with law enforcement and participate in the process of an investigation. Depending on the terminology used in your jurisdiction, this might mean that the victim is electing to change an "anonymous" report or "anonymous" evidence to a "standard" report, with the presumption that law enforcement will now initiate an investigation. Minnesota Model Policies for Forensic Compliance (2011).

Chain of Custody: identification of the person or agency having custody of evidence and the place where that evidence is kept, in chronological order from the time evidence is collected to its destruction. A formal, written process that records the persons having custody of evidence from initial point of receipt or custody by a representative of a law enforcement agency to its final disposition by the agency. The record also reflects the dates and reasons evidence is transferred from one location or person to another. A chain-of-custody record could also be included in a court transcript. Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

Chromosome: Bundles of DNA molecules that are found in a cell and are held together by proteins. Humans have 46 chromosomes that are arranged in pairs, each pair consisting of one chromosome inherited from the mother and one chromosome inherited from the father. There are 22 pairs of non-sex chromosomes and 1 pair of sex chromosomes (XX or XY). Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms.

Cleared by Arrest: A report to law enforcement is considered cleared when at least one person involved in the commission of the offense has been (1) arrested, (2) charged, and (3) turned over to the court for prosecution. Law Enforcement Support System & Crime Statistics Management Unit (2013). Summary Reporting System (SRS) User Manual. Published by the Criminal Justice Services Information Center, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice.

CODIS (Combined DNA Index System): The software program that allows users to access the national DNA database, known as the National DNA Index System. CODIS is actually a system of databases that operate on a local, state, and national level. The CODIS database includes DNA profiles in two different categories, based on how they are collected. Offender profiles are developed from reference standards collected directly from known individuals, while forensic profiles are developed based on biological evidence recovered from the victim, the suspect, or the crime scene. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) website Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the CODIS Program and the National DNA Index System.

Contamination: The unwanted transfer of material from another source to a piece of physical evidence. National Institute of Justice (2000). The Future of Forensic DNA Testing: Predictions of the Research and Development Working Group. National Institute of Justice, National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence, Research and Development Working Group, 91. Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NCJ 183697).

Crime Laboratory: We have generally used the term to refer only to a government laboratory that conducts analyses of forensic evidence for law enforcement purposes. Many private laboratories also conduct forensic analyses for law enforcement.

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D

Degradation: The transition from a higher to a lower level of quality. Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

Desiccant: A substance used as a drying agent. Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

DNA: The genetic material; a double helix composed of two complementary chains of paired bases (nucleotides); deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), often referred to as the "blueprint of life," it is the genetic material present in the nuclei of cells that is inherited, half from each biological parent. DNA is a chemical substance contained in cells that determines each person’s individual characteristics. An individual’s DNA is unique, except in cases of identical twins. National Institute of Justice (2000). Crime Scene Investigation: A Guide for Law Enforcement. Published by the National Institute of Justice, Technical Working Group on Crime Scene Investigation, 58, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NCJ 178280)

DNA Markers: Also known as genetic markers, DNA markers are specific portions of DNA that consist of short, repeating sequences of DNA. The number of times these sequences are repeated is highly variable among individuals, and it is this fact that makes DNA markers effective for human identity and family relationship testing. Heinig, J. (2007, October). The Use and Significance of Y–STR Testing.

DNA Profile: A record of a person’s combination of DNA markers. It serves as a useful tool for genetic identification. Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms

DNA Polymerase: An enzyme used to catalyze the synthesis of double-helix strands of DNA for PCR duplication. Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms

Dried Down: Evidence that has been fully dried so that no liquid (e.g., blood, semen) can drip from the object. Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

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E

Electropherogram: The graphical representation of the raw data generated by the genetic analyzer. The displayed peaks indicate both size (measured in base pairs) and intensity (measured in relative fluorescent units or RFUs) of the DNA fragments. Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms

Evidence Collector: The person who initially took ownership of an item for evidentiary purposes. Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

Evidence Custodian: The person who is responsible for evidence processing in a given location (e.g., property and evidence room, hospital, court, crime laboratory). This person can be an evidence collector or handler as well. Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

Evidence Handler: Any person who has had evidence in his or her possession at any given time. A record of this handler must be kept in the chain-of-custody record. Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

Evidence Packaging: The manner in which items with potential evidentiary value are wrapped, bagged, or boxed to be preserved, documented, and labeled. Latta, J.T. & Bowers, G.A. (2011). Property and Evidence by the Book (2nd Ed.). Hot Springs, SD: International Association for Property and Evidence.

Exceptionally Cleared: According to the FBI's guidelines for the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, a report to law enforcement can be cleared by exception when law enforcement has: (1) Definitively established the identity of the offender; (2) Gathered enough information to support an arrest, charge, and turning over to the court for prosecution; (3) Identified the exact location of the offender so that that the subject could be taken into custody now, and; (4) There is some reason outside law enforcement control that precludes arresting, charging, and prosecuting the offender. Examples of exceptional clearances include, but are not limited to, the death of the offender (e.g., suicide or justifiably killed by police or citizen); the victim's inability to participate in the investigation after the offender has been identified; the decision by a prosecutor to not file charges, and; the denial of extradition because the offender committed a crime in another jurisdiction and is being prosecuted for that offense. Law Enforcement Support System & Crime Statistics Management Unit (2013). Summary Reporting System (SRS) User Manual. Published by the Criminal Justice Services Information Center, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice.

Exclusion: The DNA test has revealed a non-match in the DNA profiles of the tested unknown evidentiary sample compared to the known sample from an individual. Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms.

Extracted DNA: Genomic DNA extracted from biological evidence; or, DNA in its raw form. Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

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F

Forensic Compliance: The term used to discuss whether states, territories, or tribes can certify that they are in compliance with certain provisions of the federal Violence Against Women Act or "VAWA" (42 U.S.C.A. §3796gg et seq). VAWA 2005 requires states, territories, and tribes that receive STOP (Services Training Officers Prosecutors) formula grant funds to certify that they are in compliance with certain mandates concerning the medical forensic examination provided to victims of sexual assault and other requirements dictating the appropriate response to sexual assault victims. Specifically, these mandates state that victims cannot be required to participate in the criminal justice system or cooperate with law enforcement in order to receive a medical forensic examination, or receive reimbursement for charges incurred on account of the examination (42 U.S.C.A. §3796gg–4). These provisions remain in place with the 2013 reauthorization of VAWA although new provisions clarified that victims cannot be required to pay any out–of–pocket costs to obtain a medical forensic exam. These rules have significantly changed the criminal justice response to sexual assault, and have even been referred to as "the earthquake in sexual assault response." Minnesota Model Policies for Forensic Compliance (2011).

Frozen: A storage condition in which the temperature is maintained thermostatically at or below –10°C (14°F). Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

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G

Gene: A single unit of information in DNA. The four molecules that comprise DNA (A, T, C, and G) are found in specific arrangements that spell out instructions for the cell, much like letters form words and sentences. The cells of the body interpret instructions from the genes in order to perform life functions and produce physical characteristics, such as eye color and blood type. Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms

Gram: A metric unit of mass equal to 1/1000 kilogram and nearly equal to the mass of one cubic centimeter of water at its maximum density. Retrieved from Merriam–Webster.

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H

Haplotype: The genetic information from one set of chromosomes (compared to genotype from autosomal chromosomes) representing single alleles. Heinig, J. (2007, October). The Use and Significance of Y–STR Testing.

High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filter: A filter that satisfies U.S. Department of Energy standards of efficiency and removes 99.97% of all particles greater than 0.3 micrometer from the air that passes through. Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

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I

Inclusion: The DNA test has revealed a match in the DNA profiles of the tested unknown evidentiary sample compared to the known sample from an individual. Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms

Integrated Software Systems: A collection of computer programs designed to work together to handle an application, either by passing data from one to another or as components of a single system. Integrated systems may include Computer Aided Dispatch, Records Management System, Laboratory Information Management System, and Property Evidence Module. Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

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J

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K

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L

LDIS (Local DNA Index System): The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) is a system of databases that operate on a local, state, and national level to store DNA profiles for criminal justice purposes. In order to access the CODIS program, local laboratories must meet certain requirements, including accreditation from specific credentialing organizations. The laboratory then constitutes part of the Local DNA Index System (LDIS), storing information on DNA profiles developed from cases in that jurisdiction. This will include both offender profiles (collected at the point of arrest and/or conviction, in accordance with state law) and forensic profiles (developed from evidence). Some local databases also include DNA profiles developed from suspect reference standards collected during the course of an investigation, before probable cause has been developed. LDIS labs upload profiles into the State DNA Index system on a weekly basis, however, it is important to note that private laboratories cannot upload DNA profiles directly into CODIS themselves. Any DNA profile developed from forensic evidence by a private laboratory must first be reviewed by the government laboratory contracting their services (e.g., the local police department). Only then can it be loaded into CODIS – via the government laboratory's CODIS portal.

Locus (plural loci): A locus indicates the position of a gene on a chromosome. We use loci to describe the genetic markers we use for DNA testing: for example, D3S1358 the D marker is on the 1358th locus described on chromosome 3. The letters in the marker name provide other information about the DNA molecule where the marker is found. Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms.

Long-Term Storage: A location that is designated to secure evidence or property items in the custody of an agency until the items are diverted, sold, released, or destroyed. In the Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook (2013), long term storage refers to any location where evidence may be stored for more than 72 hours. Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

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M

Medical Forensic Exam: The examination offered to victims following a sexual assault, which may be conducted by a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE), Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE), RN, or physician. The exam has several components. The examiner gathers a medical forensic history of the assault from the patient. A physical examination of the patient is conducted in order to document and treat any injury and collect and document biological and physical evidence that may serve as evidence in a criminal prosecution. Therefore, as its name implies, the medical forensic exam has a dual role: (1) to provide medical care and treatment to the patient, and (2) collect and document any forensic evidence of the assault that might be present on the patient's body or clothing and/or through the patient's verbal statements. All components of the examination are incorporated into the episode of care, providing a seamless process for the patient. Minnesota Model Policies for Forensic Compliance (2011).

Microgram: One millionth of a gram. Retrieved from Merriam–Webster.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA): Mitochondrial DNA is found outside the nucleus in a cell and is maternally inherited, therefore not unique to an individual. Because there are thousands of copies of mtDNA per cell and it is less prone to degradation than nuclear DNA, mtDNA is often used to obtain profiles from bone, teeth, hair without roots, and other difficult samples. Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms.

Mixture Profile: A mixture profile means that there are more than two alleles present at a given locus, indicating there is more than one contributor to the sample. Mixture profiles are common in forensic cases and must be interpreted carefully. Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms.

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N

Nanograms: One billionth of a gram. Retrieved from Merriam–Webster.

NDIS (National DNA Index System): The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) is a system of databases that operate on a local, state, and national level to store DNA profiles for criminal justice purposes. This tier of CODIS contains offender profiles collected under the statutory guidelines in each of the 50 states, as well as forensic unknowns submitted by SDIS laboratories across the country on a weekly basis. It does not include suspect profiles developed during the course of an investigation, before probable cause for an arrest has been developed. NDIS is administered by the FBI, and it is explicitly authorized by federal legislation.

Nonporous Container: Packaging through which liquids or vapors cannot pass (e.g., glass jars, metal cans, and plastic bags). National Institute of Justice (2000). The Future of Forensic DNA Testing: Predictions of the Research and Development Working Group. National Institute of Justice, National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence, Research and Development Working Group, 91. Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NCJ 183697).

Nuclear DNA: DNA that is found inside the nucleus of cells, as opposed to mitochondrial DNA [see mitochondrial DNA definition]. Nuclear DNA stores the information necessary for passing genetic attributes to from parents to offspring. Every cell of the human body contains the same nuclear DNA, except for red blood cells (which lack nuclei). The 13 CODIS loci used for human identification are found in nuclear DNA, which is the most common form of DNA used in forensic testing. Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms.

Nucleotides: One of the structural components, or building blocks, of DNA and RNA. A nucleotide consists of a base (one of four chemicals: adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine) plus a molecule of sugar and one of phosphoric acid. National Center for Biotechnical Information (NCBI). Genetics Review.

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P

Parent/Child Tracking: A tracking system capability that maintains information about an original evidence sample (or parent) and the resulting samples (or children) that have been devised or extracted to obtain testing results. Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction): A process of repeated cycles of heating and cooling in order to separate strands of DNA for duplication, yielding millions of copies of target DNA sequences for analysis. Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms.

Phenotype: The observable properties of an organism that are produced by the interaction of the genotype and the environment. Retrieved from Merriam–Webster.

Picograms: One trillionth of a gram. Retrieved from Merriam–Webster.

Porous Container: Packaging through which liquids or vapors may pass (e.g., paper bags and cloth bags). National Institute of Justice (2000). The Future of Forensic DNA Testing: Predictions of the Research and Development Working Group. National Institute of Justice, National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence, Research and Development Working Group, 91. Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NCJ 183697).

Property Room: A location dedicated to housing evidence for criminal investigations. This location can be in a law enforcement office, a crime laboratory, a hospital, or a court. Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

Property Room Manager/Custodian: A worker responsible for managing the property and/or the personnel who handles the intake, submission, and/or retrieval of evidence in a property room. Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

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Q

R

Recombination: The process by which progeny derive a combination of genes different from that of either parent. During the process of meiosis or gamete cell production, each reproductive cell receives at random one representative of each pair of chromosomes, or 23 in all. Since there are two chromosomes in each pair, meiosis results in about 8.4 million (223) different possible combinations of chromosomes in human eggs or sperm cells. The union of egg and sperm cells therefore results in over 70 trillion different possible combinations – each one representing half of the genetic material from the father and half from the mother. In this manner, human genetic material is effectively shuffled with each generation producing the diversity seen in the world today. Butler, J. (2005) Forensic DNA Typing, Second Edition: Biology, Technology, and Genetics of STR Markers (2nd Ed.). Academic Press.

Refrigerated: A storage condition in which the temperature is maintained thermostatically between 2°C and 8°C (36°F and 46°F) with less than 25% humidity. Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

Restricted Evidence Kits/Restricted Reports: A term used to describe sexual assault evidence or sexual assault cases that have the potential to be connected with an active sexual assault investigation, but have not yet been converted by the victim to a standard report. In some jurisdictions, these cases or evidence kits may be referred to as "anonymous cases" or "anonymous evidence kits," or if the evidence was collected without a report to law enforcement, they could be described as "unreported cases" or “kits from unreported cases.” The U.S. military also uses this terminology, but has different policy on how restricted cases can be converted. Minnesota Model Policies for Forensic Compliance (2011).

RFLP (Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism): The first method to gain wide-spread adoption in forensic settings. In this technique, a DNA sample is broken into pieces by restriction enzymes, resulting in restriction fragments that are separated according to their length to evaluate different patterns across persons. Campbell, R., Fehler-Cabral, G., Pierce, S.J., Sharma, D.B., Bybee, D., Shaw, J., Horsford, S. & Feeney, H. (2015). The Detroit Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Action Research Project (ARP), Final Report. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NCJ 248680).

RFU (Relative Fluorescent Unit): A measure of the intensity/quantity of the DNA fragment as detected by the gene fragment analyzer. Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms.

Room Temperature: A storage condition in which the temperature is equal to the ambient temperature of its surroundings; storage area may lack temperature and humidity control methods. Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

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S

SANE/SAFE: Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner or Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner. These acronyms refer to the healthcare professionals who are specially trained to provide care to patients following a sexual assault. Sometimes, physicians who are specially trained to provide sexual assault patient care refer to themselves as SAFEs in order to distinguish themselves from nurses providing similar care. In some jurisdictions across the nation, people also use SAFE to refer to the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam. It isn't necessary for a healthcare professional to be a SANE or a SAFE in order to complete the medical forensic exam, but it is ideal because they have received specialized training. Minnesota Model Policies for Forensic Compliance (2011).

SANE–Certified: The term used to describe an individual registered nurse or another healthcare professional who has completed a 40–hour adolescent/adult or pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner training, and has successfully completed the board certification offered by the IAFN (International Association of Forensic Nurses). There are separate certification examinations for adult/adolescent and pediatric SANE specialties. SANE–A refers to individuals who are board certified as adult/adolescent providers, and SANE–P refers to individuals who are board certified to care for the pediatric sexual assault patient. It isn't necessary for a healthcare professional to be SANE–certified in order to complete the medical forensic exam, but it is ideal given the complexity and seriousness of the task. Minnesota Model Policies for Forensic Compliance (2011).

SANE–Trained: The term used to describe an individual registered nurse or another healthcare professional who has completed a 40–hour adolescent/adult or pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner training, but who has not yet taken or successfully completed the SANE board certification examination. It isn't always necessary for a healthcare professional to be SANE–trained in order to complete the medical forensic exam, but it is best practice. Minnesota Model Policies for Forensic Compliance (2011).

SART/SARRT/SMART: The acronyms used to refer to a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), Sexual Assault Response and Resource Team (SARRT), or Sexual Assault Multidisciplinary Action Response Teams (SMART). These terms refer to multidisciplinary groups that respond to individual sexual assault cases and/or develop and monitor protocols for the response to all sexual assault cases within a specified region (e.g., city, county). Across the country, these types of multidisciplinary teams may be known by other acronyms, such as SAIC (Sexual Assault Interagency Council). While the term SARRT (with two "R's") is less frequently used, it is appropriate for communities that involve a wider array of agencies and disciplines in their collaborative effort. A SARRT will thus involve all of the first responders who are typically included in a SART (with one "R"), but it may also coordinate services for victims beyond the immediate response (e.g., representatives from mental health, public health, substance abuse treatment, and other social services). Minnesota Model Policies for Forensic Compliance (2011).

SDIS (State DNA Index System): The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) is a system of databases that operate on a local, state, and national level to store DNA profiles for criminal justice purposes. This CODIS tier contains forensic unknowns submitted by each local laboratory in the state, along with offender samples analyzed either by the state laboratory or by a group of laboratories in the state. Like LDIS, each SDIS conducts a weekly comparison of DNA profiles from across the state. When there is a hit – either to an offender or a forensic unknown – the laboratory submitting each forensic unknown is notified. SDIS laboratories also upload profiles to the national level of CODIS on a weekly basis.

Selective Degradation: In this method of DNA testing, the forensic scientist uses a faster–acting chemical technique for isolating the sperm. After an initial removal of non–sperm DNA, chemicals are added that destroy the remaining non-sperm cells in the sample (i.e., the cells that are mixed with the sperm cells), leaving only the sperm cells (hence the term "selective degradation"). Campbell, R., Fehler-Cabral, G., Pierce, S.J., Sharma, D.B., Bybee, D., Shaw, J., Horsford, S. & Feeney, H. (2015). The Detroit Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Action Research Project (ARP), Final Report. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NCJ 248680).

Serology: The study and analysis of body fluids. In forensic cases, serology is one of the first steps in determining the origin of a stain, such as blood, semen or saliva. Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms.

Sexual Assault Kit: Most jurisdictions have developed their own sexual assault evidence collection kits or purchased premade kits through commercial vendors. Kits often vary from one jurisdiction to another. Despite variations, however, it is critical that every kit meets or exceeds minimum guidelines for contents: broadly including a kit container, instruction sheet and/or checklist, forms, and materials for collecting and preserving all evidence required by the applicable crime laboratory. Evidence that may be collected includes, but is not limited to, clothing, foreign materials on the body, hair (including head and pubic hair samples and combings), oral and anogenital swabs and smears, body swabs, blood and urine samples for possible alcohol and/or toxicology testing, and a blood or saliva sample for DNA analysis and comparison. Latta, J.T. & Bowers, G.A. (2011). Property and Evidence by the Book (2nd Ed.). Hot Springs, SD: International Association for Property and Evidence.

Stabilizing Solution: A compound that is added to biological material designed to enable the storage and transportation of DNA samples without freezing. Swinfield, C. E., Graham, E. A.M., Nuttall, D., Maguire, S., Kemp, A., & Rutty, G.N. (2009) The Use of DNA Stabilizing Solution to Enable Room Temperature Storage and Transportation of Buccal and Trace Sample Swabs. Progress in Forensic Genetics 13, edited by N. Morling. Paper presented at the 23rd Congress of the International Society for Forensic Genetics, Buenos Aires, Argentina, September 2009.

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP): A set of guidelines that can also be equated to general orders, policies and procedures, and rules and regulations. Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

Standard Report: A sexual assault that is reported to law enforcement with a victim who is willing to participate in an investigation. The term standard report is used to distinguish from instances where the victim has not yet decided whether to report the assault to law enforcement (see restricted kit/restricted case). Minnesota Model Policies for Forensic Compliance (2011).

Short Tandem Repeats (STR): A type of DNA marker. This short sequence of DNA is repeated multiple times in succession. The number of times STRs are repeated distinguishes a person from others in the population. This is what makes STRs useful for human identification purposes. Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms

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Temporary Storage/Short–Term Storage: Storage of evidence from the time collected to reception by property room personnel. In the Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook (2013), temporary or short-term storage refers to any location that can hold evidence for up to 72 hours. Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation (2013). Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers. Published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NISTIR 7928).

Touch DNA: DNA contained in shed skin cells that transfer to surfaces that humans touch. Daly, Dyan J., Charlotte Murphy, and Sean D. McDermott (2012). The Transfer of Touch DNA from Hands to Glass, Fabric and Wood. Forensic Science International. Genetics 6, no. 1 (January): 41 - 46. doi:10.1016/j.fsigen.2010.12.016.

Toxicology Collection Kit: Also known as a "tox kit," these kits are created to standardize the collection of blood and urine for the purposes of toxicology testing. One kit typically contains a urine bottle and another kit contains blood tubes. Minnesota Model Policies for Forensic Compliance (2011).

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Unfounding: A report to law enforcement that is determined to be false or baseless. In other words, no crime occurred. Law Enforcement Support System & Crime Statistics Management Unit (2013). Summary Reporting System (SRS) User Manual. Published by the Criminal Justice Services Information Center, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice.

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VAWA 2005: The term used to refer to the federal Violence Against Women Act of 2005. VAWA 2005 contains explicit requirements for states, territories and tribes that receive certain federal funds. States receiving these funds must certify that they are in compliance with rules about how the medical forensic examination is offered to victims of sexual assault and how that exam is managed. In addition to provisions addressing the medical forensic exam, VAWA 2005 addresses a broad range of other issues. VAWA was first signed into law as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, recognizing the need to address violent crime that disproportionally affects women (42 U.S.C. § 3711 et. seq.) VAWA was re–authorized, with amendments and changes, in both 2000 and 2005. Minnesota Model Policies for Forensic Compliance (2011).

VAWA 2013: VAWA 2013 is the most recent authorization of the Violence Against Women Act. This act, often referred to as "VAWA 2013," retains all of the forensic compliance provisions from 2005 with two important changes. First, VAWA 2013 clarified that victims cannot be required to pay any out-of-pocket costs to obtain a medical forensic exam. Under VAWA 2005, jurisdictions were allowed to bill victims for the cost of the exam as long as they were fully reimbursed. However, this option was eliminated in VAWA 2013. Second, VAWA 2013 states that a governmental entity (such as a U.S. state, territory, or tribal government) will only be eligible for STOP grant funding if it coordinates with regional health care providers to notify victims of sexual assault of the availability of rape exams at no cost to the victims. This new provision has the potential to create a sea change in public awareness. Minnesota Model Policies for Forensic Compliance (2011).

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Y–STR: DNA found on the Y-chromosome that is paternally inherited and therefore not unique to an individual. Y–STR testing is often used to help decipher a male DNA profile in a mixture of male and female in a DNA sample. Glossary of Forensic DNA Terms.

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