Source: (2004) Lecture presented by K. Daly, October and November 2004, to University of Cambridge (Institute of Criminology and the Socio-Legal Seminar Group), Oxford University, University of Strathclyde, and the London School of Economics. Revised December 2004. Downloaded 8 February 2005.

My paper asks this question: Are restorative justice conferences an appropriate way to respond to sexual violence? Or do court proceedings deliver greater justice for victims? There are just two jurisdictions in the world today, New Zealand and the Australian state of South Australia, which routinely use conferences in responding to youth sexual assault. In other jurisdictions, sexual offences have been excluded from the restorative justice (RJ) agenda: they are understood to be too sensitive or too serious to be handled by an RJ process. Critics of conferences for these offences assume that victims will suffer more from an informal, face-to-face encounter with an offender, than if the case goes to court. Further, it is assumed that if cases are diverted from court, it will appear that offenders are being treated too leniently and that offences not being taken seriously enough, what Donna Coker (1999: 85) terms the cheap justice problem. It's widely known that the criminal justice system is especially inept in prosecuting sexual violence. However, as Barbara Hudson (2002: 622) says, it remains an open question whether restorative justice offers better hope of redress for women and children. This paper presents the results of an archival study of the court and conference handling of youth sexual offence cases. It is the first study to provide empirical evidence on the comparative merits of court and conference for these cases. (excerpt)

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