Clare McGlynn (Durham Law School)
This article was originally published on the Guardian website on Thursday 19 May 2011.
The justice secretary, Ken Clarke, was clearly wrong when he suggested that some rapes are more serious than others. But he was right to start a debate on sentencing discounts for early pleas in rape cases.
Securing more guilty pleas at an early stage of an investigation – and most specifically not at the doors of the court – would be a positive step for many victims. An early admission can relieve a victim of the burden of pursuing a case through the demanding prosecution and trial process which many victims experience as a “second rape”.
An acknowledgement of responsibility by an offender is fundamental to many victims’ sense of justice. For many, exposure of the offender is more important than punishment and long prison sentences. They want to deprive him of his undeserved honour and status. They want vindication from their communities and families that they were harmed, that it wasn’t their fault, that the offender is to blame. (more…)