Victimization In The Criminal Justice System

1204 words - 5 pages

Victimization in the Criminal Justice System
Ian Gallagher
May 18, 2015
Lora Terrill

Victimization in the Criminal Justice System
In ancient times, victims of crimes, and their kin, were responsible for the sentencing and implementation of the offender. This trend did not reappear, in a more lawful form, in modern criminal justice systems until the 1970’s. Recent years have seen growth and attention in victim’s rights and advocacy, but many claim the system is still flawed (Schmalleger & Hall, 2010). This paper will examine how victimization affects each party: the prosecution, the defense , the offender, and the victim in the final stages of sentencing and imposing of ...view middle of the document...

Balancing a victim’s goal for rehabilitation and the sentencing guidelines of incapacitation is an issue faced by many prosecutors (Schmalleger & Hall, 2010). Alternative sanctions, when allowable by guidelines, are often used when the victim requests or when sentencing evidence is too weak for stronger punishments. Prosecutors may offer alternative sanctions in exchange for concessions in other charges or when the defense offers a few types of sentences to avoid one or two others.
While the defense has much less leeway in sentencing, they have a burden, nonetheless. While the prosecution can bring previously unused evidence into sentencing hearings, the defense, throughout the entire process, is bound to very strict rules about what it can and can’t say about the victim. Not only does the defense have the emotionally taxing job to defend a person who has victimized another, but it must also prepare to counteract the victim impact statement without violating victim’s rights (Schmalleger & Hall, 2010).
The goals of the defense are often to seek the lightest sentence possible and will typically try to convince the court of an offender’s ability to rehabilitate or deter from further committals of crime (Sphone, 2002). Defense teams will be most likely to ask for alternative sanctions in lieu of harsher sentencing. They are also bound, however, by sentencing guidelines and must ask for sanctions, such as home confinement or work release, within those time guidelines. The defense may not ask, however for sentencing, which is not equitable. An example would be probation for a kidnapping (Schmalleger & Hall, 2014).
Some hope that the move to allow victim statements and other victim influence will move the criminal to a place of true remorse which will then allow for true change and rehabilitation to occur. In reality, the introduction of victim statements has been shown to increase the frequency of harsher sentencing (Sphone, 2002).Victimization can also give the criminal a sense of control over the victim and provide for intimidation and the hope for a lighter sentence. Unless a criminal is truly remorseful, a criminal is threatened by his or her crime against the victim and powerless against the facts of that victimization. Criminals who are not repentant are certain to have a goal of light alternative sanctions and can only hope for the mercy of the court and the victim.
In all of this lays the crime against the victim and the victim’s right to justice. Unfortunately, victims often experience re-victimization during the court process. Some feel that the power being given to victims lead to a generally more victimized state of mind in society (Schmalleger & Hall, 2010). A victim’s true goal in sentencing must be a sense of closure and relief. Crimes vary...

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