Where do they belong? Giving victims a place in the criminal justice process

Author(s)Wemmers, Jo-Anne
Title Where do they belong? Giving victims a place in the criminal justice process
Source Criminal Law Forum 2009 No 20 pp 395-416
Paper presented National Victims of Crime Conference, Adelaide, September 2008
Date 2009
Document type Conference paper
Summary This paper discusses the role of victims in the criminal justice process. A consideration is given to the rise of the victim profile historically, most notably since the 1970s. The use of victim impact statements is discussed, including the controversy surrounding them, such as upsetting the balance of justice or victims regarding victim impact statements as too little, too late. The author examines restorative justice reforms and recognises the values that guide the restorative justice programs including respect for the dignity of the individual, participation of victims and offenders, and reparation. The third section of the paper discusses where to place victims. The abolitionist approach is considered, including the use of diversion programs. The author then considers whether restorative justice practices can be added to criminal justice, such as the experience in Belgium where restorative justice is possible at any stage in the criminal justice process. A further solution is to integrate restorative justice values in the criminal justice system, as seen in the International Criminal Court. The author concludes by discussing the reforms to victims' rights and in particular the effect of the restorative justice movement in changing, or not changing, the victim's role in the criminal justice system.
Keywords Victims role; criminal justice system; restorative justice; victim participation
Topic Victims rights; Restorative Justice; Criminal Justice System