The Controversial Nature of Victim Participation: Therapeutic Benefits in Victim Impact Statements
13 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2011 Last revised: 13 Oct 2011
Date Written: January 23, 2011
Over the past thirty years the position of victims of crime in the criminal justice system has shown vast improvement. Many victims’ rights are relatively uncontroversial. That victims should be treated with respect and recognition, that they should receive comprehensible information, should be able to receive support and assistance and be reimbursed for their expenses and compensated for their damages, are recognized. Participation in the criminal justice system is a more complicated matter. The topic of this paper, the victim impact statements, is criticised on the grounds of the pressure it may place on the rights of suspects and the impartial nature of the trial. Moreover it is argued that the therapeutic focus of these reforms is in essence alien to the criminal justice process. Finally the effectiveness of victim impact statements is called into question. In this paper it will be argued that specifying therapeutic benefits and closer inspection of the therapeutic literature will simultaneously reduce the tension with established criminal justice principles and provide a more fruitful base for conducting research into the effectiveness of victim impact statements.
Keywords: Victim Impact Statements, Therapeutic Jurisprudence
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