Victims and the sentencing process: developing participatory rights?

Author(s) Doak, Jonathan, Henham, Ralph, and Mitchell, Barry
Title Victims and the sentencing process: developing participatory rights?
Source Legal Studies, vol 29 (4), pp 651-677
Date 2009
Document type Journal article
Coverage United Kingdom
Summary This paper examines the Victims Advocates Scheme (VAS) against emergent international trends. Consideration is given to the capacity of the adversarial system to accommodate a proactive role for the victim. The degree to which victims are able to participate at the International Criminal Court is examined and lessons that England and Wales can learn are identified, such as ensuring the rights given to victims are 'real' and victims' rights do not jeopardise the rights of the accused. There is further discussion about the rise of therapeutic jurisprudence, particularly in the USA and Canada. Evaluations of the VAS have suggested that victim impact statements have little influence on sentencing and only a moderate degree of satisfaction with victims. The limitations and challenges of the scheme are also discussed and as the application of victim impact statements is only at the post-trial process of murder trials, the VAS initiative is seen as only a very small advance in victim participation.
Keywords Rights; victims voice; criminal justice system; accused rights; Victims Focus Scheme.
Topic Victims rights; victim impact statements