Responding to Victimization
Victims do have a role within the criminal justice system; therefore, the system has researched how to improve victim services. The fear-victimization paradox explains who is fearful and who should be fearful of crime (Meadows, 2014). Recent polls suggest this fear is derived from two influences: income and gender. People residing in poor neighborhoods often experience a greater fear of victimization; therefore, participation in the criminal justice system is extremely important. In recent years, many legislators have attempted to address victims’ rights within the criminal justice system (Meadows, 2014). The Victim’s Bill of Rights provides protections to victims of crimes.
Victims have many rights written into most states’ constitution. Among these rights is the right to attend criminal justice proceedings (Meadows, 2014). This right covers several ways victims can participate in the proceedings. During the pre-trial phase of the trial, victims can “confer” with the prosecutor (Siegel & Worrall, 2014). The adequacy of this conference is flawed. Although the victim can “convey” with the prosecutor, the victim has no power to during this process. “Statutes do not require that the prosecutor defer to the victim’s wishes, and there are no legal consequences for ignoring the victim in a plea bargaining decision” (Siegel & Worrall, 2014, p. 385). I would certainly advocate for the victim’s suggestion to have more influence within plea bargaining negotiations.
In attending criminal justice proceedings, victims also have the right to provide victim impact statements during the sentencing phase of the trial. Victim impact statements are associated with the post-conviction phase of a trial and allows the victim to express their concerns and experiences to the sentencing judge (Siegel & Worrall, 2014). The victims and the victim’s family have a chance to tell the judge how the crime has affected them. I believe this process may provide adequate means for victims to fully express their grievances. Victim impact statements can shed light into the actual effects of the crime. The judge can use these statements as influence of the sentence.
Other protections are provided in the Victim’s Bill or Rights. The victim has a right to be protected from the offender. This lessens the chance the victim will be threatened not to testify or become fearful. The victim also has the right to be informed of court proceedings and information about the progress of the trial. Although this right is meaningful in terms of victim protection, it may be inadequate. In most cases the victim must keep track of the case themselves. In this light, the victim may be unaware if an offender has been released. Even though most states have not adopted the Victim’s Bill of Rights, the protections it affords are important in helping victims participate in the criminal justice process.
Siegel, L. J., & Worrall, J. L. (2014). Introduction to Criminal Justice (14 ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage.
Meadows, R. J. (2014). Understanding Violence and Victimization (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson.