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"Justice Gap" for Sexual Assault Cases: Future Directions for Research and Reform

NCJ Number
Violence Against Women Volume: 18 Issue: 2 Dated: February 2012 Pages: 145-168
Kimberly A. Lonsway; Joanne Archambault
Date Published
February 2012
24 pages
This article examines sexual assault reporting and criminal justice outcomes.
Media coverage often reports "good" news about the criminal justice system's ability to effectively respond to sexual assault, concluding that the past two decades have seen an increase in rape reporting, prosecution, and conviction. The objective of this article is to examine the validity of such conclusions by critically reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of various data sources and comparing the statistics they produce. These statistics include estimates for sexual assault reporting rates and case outcomes in the criminal justice system. The authors conclude that such pronouncements are not currently supported by statistical evidence, and we outline some directions for future research and reform efforts to make the "good news" a reality in the United States. (Published Abstract)