Australian Institute of Criminology

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Do specialized courts work for child abuse cases? A Canadian experience

Australian Institute of Criminology, Jane Ursel
11 December 2003 -

Professor Jane Ursel
University of Manitoba


In 1990 Manitoba was the first jurisdication in Canada to introduce specialized criminal courts for the processing of family violence cases. Criteria for entry in this court are cases in which the victim is in a relationship of trust, dependency and/or kinship with the accused. As a result this court hears all cases of partner abuse, child abuse and elder abuse.

Since its inception, Jane Ursel has led a team of researchers who have been collecting data on all cases processed by this court. This study is the only longitudinal court study of its kind in Canada. Jane Ursel will be presenting data from this 13 year study with information on characteristics of the accused, the victim, court processing and outcome and shifts in sentencing over time.

Jane Ursel is an associate professor of Sociology at the University of Manitoba. She is also the director of a tri-provincial research network on family violence, involving formal partnerships with seven prairie universities. Jane is the director of two longitudinal studies, the 13 year specialized court study and a recently funded 5 year study of women who have been abused. She has served as an expert witness in a number of inquests and inquiries dealing with domestic homicides and is a lay bencher with the Manitoba Law Society