Allocution and the Purposes of Victim Participation Under the CVRA
6 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2007
This short Article examines interpretive questions raised by the victim-allocution provision of the Crime Victims' Rights Act of 2004. Those questions stem in part from the usual ambiguities that accompany virtually every new piece of legislation. But they also stem in part from a more basic failure of policy makers to articulate with much clarity the values at which the participatory rights of the CVRA aim. This failure is consistent with criminal procedure's recent history of invoking rights-based solutions to what are sometimes institutional or structural problems. Unthinking emphasis on the language of rights can impair the exploration of perspectives and approaches that might contribute to the most effective solutions to a problem in the long term. The Article illustrates this point in the context of the CVRA by unpacking potential purposes behind the victim-allocution provision and suggesting ways in which a more nuanced appreciation of those purposes might point us toward clearer and more effective mechanisms for integrating victims into the criminal justice process.
Keywords: Allocution, victim, crime
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