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NCJ Number: 65554 Find in a Library
Title: VARIABLES AFFECTING GUILTY PLEAS AND CONVICTIONS IN RAPE CASES - TOWARD A SOCIAL THEORY OF RAPE PROCESSING
Journal: SOCIAL FORCES  Volume:58  Issue:3  Dated:(MARCH 1980)  Pages:833-850
Author(s): G D LAFREE
Corporate Author: University of North Carolina Press
Marketing Manager
United States of America
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 18
Sponsoring Agency: University of North Carolina Press
Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2288
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THIS PAPER SUGGESTS THAT CONVICTIONS IN RAPE CASES WILL BE AFFECTED BY THE EXTENT TO WHICH CHARACTERISTICS OF CASES APPROXIMATE THE RAPE STEREOTYPES HELD BY CRIMINAL JUSTICE PERSONNEL.
Abstract: RESEARCH ON REACTIONS TO RAPE HAS NOT PROVIDED A RELIABLE ASSESSMENT OF THE DETERMINANTS OF OFFICIAL DECISIONS IN RAPE CASES AND THE RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF THESE DETERMINANTS; WITH FEW EXCEPTIONS, SUCH RESEARCH HAS EMPHASIZED THE INTENTIONAL BIASES OF PROCESSING AGENTS RATHER THAN THE UNIQUE DIFFICULTIES INHERENT IN PROCESSING RAPE CASES. TWO CHARACTERISTICS OF RAPE MAKE OFFICIAL CLASSIFICATIONS PROBLEMATIC: RAPE CASES RARELY INCLUDE WITNESSES AND PROCESSING IS OFTEN REDUCED TO A DIRECT CONFRONTATION BETWEEN ACCUSER AND ACCUSED. SUCH A TWO-PARTY CONFRONTATION IS LIKELY TO BE HIGHLY UNSTABLE. YET OFFICIALS MUST MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT HOW CASES SHOULD BE FILED. LABELING THEORISTS ARGUE THAT PROCESSING AGENTS' OWN STEREOTYPES OF CRIME AFFECT THESE DECISIONS. THUS THE MORE SIMILAR THE CHARACTERISTICS OF VICTIMS, OFFENDERS, AND OFFENSES ARE TO THE TYPIFICATION OF RAPE HELD BY PROCESSING AGENTS, THE MORE LIKELY AN INCIDENT IS TO RESULT IN THE CONVICTION OF AN ACCUSED OFFENDER. RESEARCH ON RAPE HAS PROVIDED A SET OF VARIABLES WHICH COULD AFFECT THE TYPIFICATIONS HELD BY PROCESSING AGENTS: THE VICTIM'S MORAL CHARACTER AND CONDUCT; THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE VICTIM, THE DEFENDANT, THE INCIDENT; AND THE VICTIM-DEFENDER RELATIONSHIP. THESE VARIABLES WERE RELATED TO THE LIKELIHOOD OF GUILTY PLEAS AND VERDICTS FOR 124 RAPE CASES FILED IN CRIMINAL COURT IN A LARGE, MIDWESTERN CITY, AND WERE THEN ANALYZED USING MULTIPLE REGRESSIONS. RESULTS SHOWED THAT OF THESE VARIABLES, THE VICTIM'S NONCONFORMIST BEHAVIOR HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON OUTCOMES. BLACK WOMEN, AND WOMEN WHO DID NOT REPORT THE INCIDENT PROMPTLY WERE LESS LIKELY TO HAVE THEIR COMPLAINTS COME TO TRIAL AND RESULT IN CONVICTION. ALSO, ASSAULTS BY DEFENDANTS WITH MORE SERIOUS RECORDS AND ASSUALTS BY MORE THAN ONE MAN WERE LIKELY TO END IN CONVICTION. RESULTS WERE CONSISTENT WITH THE PROPOSITION THAT REACTIONS TO RAPE ARE CONDITIONED BY STEREOTYPES ABOUT THE KIND OF WOMEN, MEN, AND SOCIAL SITUATIONS MOST TYPICAL OF RAPE. NOTES AND A LIST OF REFERENCES ARE APPENDED. (MJW)
Index Term(s): Communications units (police); Labeling theory; Rape; Sex offenses; Sexual assault victims; Unreported crimes; Victim-offender relationships
Note: AN EARLIER VERSION OF THIS PAPER WAS READ AT THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE MIDWEST SOCIOLOGICAL SOCIETY, 1979
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=65554

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