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'Cooling out' victims of crime: Managing victim participation in the sentencing process in a superior sentencing court  

            

 

Author(s)Booth, Tracey
Title 'Cooling out' victims of crime: Managing victim participation in the sentencing process in a superior sentencing court
Source Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology,2012, Vol. 45, pp214-230
Date 2012
Document type Journal article
Coverage Australia
Summary In this article the author explores the containment and management of victim participation through oral victim impact statements (VIS) in the courtroom. The findings are analysed using the 'cooling out' conceptual framework developed by Goffman in 1952. The first part of the article outlines the disjuncture between the goals and interests of the adversarial sentencing process and family victims. Three aspects in particular of this disjuncture are explored: the adversarial form of legal proceedings, the narrow legal focus of the sentencing hearing and the express function of victim impact statements. The second part of the article briefly analyses findings from a UK study of VIS's. In the observation study in the third part of the article the author observed 18 sentencing hearings in the NSW Supreme Court between July 2007 and December 2008 and supplemented the observations with reference to the transcripts of the hearings and the VIS's. The study found that oral VIS's did raise emotional tension in the sentencing hearings but effective cooling out processes and sensitive legal participants managed any potential adverse impact.
Keywords Victim impact statements; VIS; cooling out; sentencing; homicide
Topic

Victim impact statements