Victim Impact Statements at Sentencing: Towards a Clearer Understanding of Their Aims
Marie Manikis, “Victim Impact Statements at Sentencing: Towards a Clearer Understanding of their Aims” (2015) 65:2 University of Toronto Law Journal 85-123
39 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2016
Date Written: November 14, 2015
The aims of victim impact statements (VIS) can be classified into two main categories – instrumental and expressive. These different sorts of aims are associated with different, and often conflicting, sentencing objectives. This article argues that the VIS regime in Canada remains a legal no man’s land, with neither its role nor its aims being clearly defined and articulated. Indeed, recent appellate court decisions have shown a number of inconsistencies and conflicts in the instrumental and expressive purposes that VISs in Canada are meant to serve. Further, it is also argued, the proposed legislative amendments under Bill C-32 are not very promising, since this scheme also fails to clearly articulate the aims and rationales behind the statements and behind the proposed changes. It is shown, throughout the article, that VIS regime guidelines and parameters can take different shapes and forms, depending on the aims retained. Moreover, while a dualist scheme that reconciles instrumental and expressive aims may be possible, clarity would be necessary in order to craft adequate parameters. Certainly, more protective measures are necessary if instrumental aims are to be retained. Finally, having laid out the conceptual and foundational grounds required to understand the possible aims of VISs and how these different aims can shape the relevant parameters, the article proceeds by laying out an initial, more normative, proposal for a VIS multi-functional model inspired by evidence-based findings.
Keywords: victim impact statements, sentencing, victims, aims, evidence
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation