Satisfied? Exploring Victims' Justice Judgements
33 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2014
Date Written: 2014
Across common law countries, victims of crime and victim advocates have made trenchant and sustained critique of criminal justice systems. Running deep in the debate has been the claim that justice itself is absent. In response, legislators and administrators have initiated various reforms from services to ‘rights’ charters. In examining victims’ experiences with and assessments of reforms, both policy makers and researchers have tended to rely on ‘satisfaction’ as a measure. While useful for policy purposes, satisfaction may hide more than it reveals about the expectations and interests of people who are victims of crime. Instead, this chapter argues for closer engagement with ideas of justice. It does so through the narratives and survey responses of a group of men and women who became involved in the criminal justice system in a large regional city in Australia following an incident of violence against them. Interviews with people on three occasions identified a conception of justice that was a dynamic integration comprising substantive and procedural elements. Moreover, this conception drew on core values associated with the public role of the criminal justice system, especially those of fairness, equality and respect. Conceiving of victims as clients or consumers of justice ‘services’ through the lens of satisfaction fails to recognize the normative power of justice as an inclusive ideal as well as its political potency in communal governance.
Keywords: criminal justice, justice, crime victim, satisfaction
JEL Classification: K4, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation