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NCJ Number: 221756 Find in a Library
Title: Social Workers' Perspectives on the Victim Impact Statements in Cases of Sexual Assault in Canada
Journal: Women & Criminal Justice  Volume:18  Issue:3  Dated:2007  Pages:1-23
Author(s): Janice Du Mont; Karen-Lee Miller; Deborah White
Date Published: 2007
Page Count: 23
Sponsoring Agency: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0W9, Canada
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Ottawa, ON K1P 6G4, Canada
Grant Number: 2006-2009 CIHR
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study, which was conducted in Ontario, Canada, examined 15 social workers' (SWs') perspectives of sexual assault victims' victim impact statements (VISs), which are crime victims' written and/or verbal accounts of the physical, psychological, and economic harms they experienced due to the crime.
Abstract: The interviews with the SWs, all of whom worked in a hospital-based sexual assault care and treatment center, found that most were unaware of the legislative content and history of VISs in sexual assault cases; however, they had acquired, through various means, a knowledge of the formal and informal rules of legal practice pertaining to the construction, reception, and implementation of VISs in the court setting. Some apparently unquestioningly adhered to VIS rules and guidelines, but others questioned the VIS restrictions on content and tone. Some SWs helped the women victims phrase and structure their statements in ways intended to voice their victimization experience while avoiding negative reactions from the presiding judge. Such influence by the SW on the VIS suggests it may not entirely reflect the victim's personalized perception of her suffering. When questioned on their thoughts about the value of the VIS, most SWs were unable to give definitive conclusions about its impact on the court's sentencing; however, some SWs reported that victims often became upset because their expectations for sentence length were not met. This suggests that sexual assault victims were not satisfied with the VIS's impact on the judge's sentencing decision. The semistructured, face-to-face and telephone interviews with the SWs were conducted by a researcher with a Master's degree in Social Work. 44 references
Main Term(s): Victim impact statements
Index Term(s): Canada; Foreign criminal justice research; Sexual assault victims; Social workers; Victim attitudes
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