In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many innocent black men were wrongfully lynched without trial in the Jim Crow South, often based on trumped-up charges of raping white women. Today, courts decide rape cases, and evidence collected by nurses can exonerate the innocent and identify the real perpetrators.

This careful work is the realm of sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs), who make up the largest sector of forensic nursing, a specialty that blends nursing with the judicial system. In addition to working with victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and elder abuse, forensic nurses collect evidence at crime scenes and assist with death investigations. They collaborate with police detectives and testify in court. Some forensic nurses work with prison populations and psychiatric patients. But regardless of their particular job focus, all forensic nurses have two key skills in common: unwavering objectivity and attention to detail.

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