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4 Crim. Just. Pol'y Rev. 1 (1990)

handle is hein.journals/cjpr4 and id is 1 raw text is: 
CJPR, VOL. 4, NO. 1/90, pp. 1-18

A Case Of Unrealistic Expectations: The Impact Of
Rape Reform Legislation In Illinois

Cassie Spohn
   University of Nebraska at Omaha
Julie Homey
   University of Nebraska at Omaha
   Concerns about the treatment of rape victims and attrition in rape cases
prompted states to reform their rape laws. Reformers expected the statutory
changes to produce an increase in the number of reports of rape and to enhance
the likelihood of arrest, prosecution, and conviction in rape cases. In this study
we evaluate the impact of rape law reform in Illinois. We use time-series
analysis to examine the reforms' effects on reports of rape and on the outcomes
of nearly 6,000 rape cases filed in Cook County Circuit Court from 1970 to
1985. We find that the reforms did not produce the types of instrumental
effects anticipated by reformers.

   Concerns about the treatment of rape cases and rape victims prompted states
to reform their rape laws. Critics charged that traditional laws and rules of
evidence discouraged rape victims from reporting the crime to the police and
encouraged criminal justice officials to base case processing decisions on
irrelevant assessments of the status, character and reputation of the victim.
They argued, in short, that traditional laws made it easy to commit rape and
get away with it (Rodabaugh and Austin, 1981: 17).
   The overall purpose of the reforms was to treat rape like other crimes by
shifting the focus of inquiry from the behavior or reputation of the victim to the
unlawful acts of the offender. The intent was counteract the historical bias
against rape victims by giving notice that the rights of the rape victim will no
longer be subordinated to those of the accused (Sasko and Sesek, 1975: 502).
To accomplish this, states enacted reform statutes which vary in comprehen-
This manuscript is based on work supported by the National Institute of Justice under Grant
No. SES-8508323 and by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 85-U-CX-0048.
Points of view are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the
U.S. Department of Justice or the National Science Foundation.

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