While some victims gain peace of mind from their attacker being behind bars for a lengthy period, decades of punitive sentencing regimes and higher and higher prison populations have not secured justice or safety for most victims of sexual violence. There is little evidence that deterrence works, or indeed that prison works. So what should we do?

....If we listen to victims, our assumptions about justice and victims' needs may be challenged. As well as sentencing reform, the government's consultation paper considers greater use of restorative justice, which requires the offender to acknowledge responsibility and take steps to make amends. Restorative justice has been used in a handful of adult rape cases in England, with some victims finding it valuable and recommending its wider use. It may have a role to play in meeting some of the needs and expectations of victims, by giving them a chance to tell their story in their own way and granting them a measure of control over the treatment of their complaint, such that some may gain a sense of justice.

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