Neutralizing victim reform: legal professionals' perspectives on victims and impact statements

Author(s)Erez, Edna and Laster, Cathy
Title Neutralizing victim reform: legal professionals' perspectives on victims and impact statements
Source Crime and Delinquency, Vol 45, No 4, October 1999, p530-553
Date 1999
Document type Journal article
Coverage South Australia
Summary This article examines the historical background to the introduction of victim impact statements (VIS) and discusses reasons for their ineffectiveness. The study sought to identify the strategies used by legal professionals to respond to victim input reforms, such as VIS, using qualitative research methods. The study was conducted in Adelaide, South Australia with 42 legal professionals, including judicial officers and lawyers from the prosecution and the defence. There was found to be significant agreement between all groups of legal professionals about the minimal impact of victim-centred law reforms. Participants offered a variety of reasons for ignoring or minimising VISs and the harm experienced by victims. Some of the reasons included: a belief that the reforms were prompted by political consideration; problems with the objectivity of VISs; and consideration of the reasonable victim and the exceptional victim. The authors discuss the techniques of neutralisation employed by the professionals in this resistance to VIS reform.
Keywords Victim impact statements; criminal proceedings; court outcomes; sentencing
Topic Victim impact statements