Victim impact statements and sentencing

Author(s)Garkawe, Sam
Title Victim impact statements and sentencing
Source Monash University Law Review 2007, 90
Date 2007
Document type Journal article
Coverage Australia
URL http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/MonashULawRw/2007/3.html
Summary Victim impact statements (VIS) are an accepted part of the jurisdictions of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the USA. The author contends that VIS may appropriately influence the sentence of an offender, but only in a minority of cases and with safeguards in place. The main arguments for and against the submission of VIS during a sentence hearing are presented, including the recognition of victims in the criminal justice system and increasing their co-operation with the system and the therapeutic benefits, and on the other hand, fear that the effect of a VIS would be to increase penalties and undermine the objectivity of the court. A key consideration discussed is whether the actual impact of the crime on the victim is relevant at all to the offender's sentence. The author suggests that the benefits of allowing the VIS to be presented to the court outweigh any potential problems.
Keywords Victim impact statements; VIS; sentencing; offender's rights; therapeutic role; criminal justice system
Topic Victim impact statements