Victim impact statements: Lessons learned and future priorities

Author(s)Roberts, Julian
Title Victim impact statements: Lessons learned and future priorities
Source The Victims of Crime Digest.2008.
Date 2008
Document type Research report
Coverage Canada
Summary This article summarises research findings, with an emphasis on those from Canada, regarding victim impact statements (VIS). A number of lessons learned from the use of VIS including the fact that only a minority of victims submit VIS and some of the barriers to victims submitting VIS are discussed, including insufficient assistance and time given to victims to prepare a VIS. A considerable amount of research has been concerned with finding out if VIS improve a victim's satisfaction with the sentencing process and it appears that most victims see submitting VIS as positive. It has also been found that it is important that victims have a clear and realistic expectation about what to expect. From a judicial perspective, judges report that VIS are useful and there is little evidence to show that they have adverse effects on the sentencing process. The author suggests some outstanding issues that require future research. One is to a conduct a best practices service delivery review to ensure victims are consistently well informed about presenting a VIS. Two other areas identified for future research are the impact of VIS on the offender and the impact of VIS in parole hearings. A detailed history of the legislative amendments regarding VIS in Canada is included.
Keywords Victim impact statements; parole hearings
Topic Victim impact statements