Monday, October 23, 2017

Comparative conviction rates: probative?

CBC News has run a substantial article about the prosecution of sex assault in the Canadian Forces. One point the piece makes is that there conviction rate for courts-martial is about half that of civilian courts. But the military data base is small -- arguably too small to permit meaningful conclusions to be drawn. Excerpt:
"The rate of conviction isn't a measure of success in any prosecution service, whether it's a military prosecution service or a civilian criminal justice system across the country," said Col. Bruce MacGregor in an interview with CBC News.
His annual reports, tabled in Parliament, show that between April 1, 2014, and March 31, 2017, there were 17 courts martial where the accused faced one or more charges of sexual assault.
Those resulted in four guilty verdicts, eight not guilty findings, four cases in which charges were stayed and one case that was withdrawn.
That amounts to a conviction rate of slightly more than 23 per cent.
In civilian courts, the rate of conviction for sexual assault was 43 per cent in 2014-15, according to Statistics Canada.

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