The criminal justice system has historically failed survivors of sexual violence. And it’s easy to make that conclusion when reading the statistics: Three out of four sexual assaults are not reported to police, often for survivors’ fear of being victim-blamed. Out of the cases that are reported to police, 13% get referred to prosecutors. And only 7% of those cases lead to a felony conviction.
But what if there was a better approach to getting justice for victims of sexual assault?
Dr. Mary Koss, a Regents’ Professor at University of Arizona’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, illustrates multiple justice alternatives in a new report released Friday, published by Data For Progress and the Justice Collaborative Institute. Currently, there are a very limited number of options for victims seeking justice, but by implementing restorative justice ― an alternative method to addressing harm by relying on community members instead of the criminal system ― survivors could have a say in what type of justice they’re seeking and how they receive it.
“The criminal justice system is a pipeline, and it has leaks all along the way,” Koss told HuffPost, adding that only “a drop of consequence comes out.”
The criminal justice system is a pipeline, and it has leaks all along the way. Dr. Mary Koss, professor at University of Arizona’s College of Public Health
Using restorative justice practices could fix that leaky pipeline, Koss said. Out of a survey of over 1,000 U.S. voters, 69% said they would support making mental health and trauma-related services available to survivors who choose not to report to police. Nearly 60% of all respondents supported reallocating funds from law enforcement to support financing those victim services.
Last month, HuffPost spoke to more than a dozen survivors of sexual assault about the debate over defunding police. All of them said police usually ended up re-traumatizing them instead of helping...