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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 92706 Find in a Library
Title: Compensation and Conceptions of Victims of Crime
Journal: Victimology  Volume:8  Issue:1-2  Dated:(1983)  Pages:204-212
Author(s): D R Miers
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 9
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article addresses two aspects of the compensation of victims of violent crimes.
Abstract: Firstly, it describes in general terms the typical characteristics of compensation programmes to be found in common law jurisdictions. Although there are a great many programmes currently in operation, they display a high degree of homogeneity, particularly in their definition of those who are eligible for compensation, and to a lesser extent, in the conditions under which compensation will be payable, and for what kinds of loss. Secondly, the article addresses the broader victimological issue, how are victims of crime to be defined? It is argued that to call someone a 'victim' is to attach a social label to him. It is to acknowledge that his suffering is undeserved, and is a proper occasion for extending sympathy or other compensatory behavior and for mobilizing the institutional and other arrangements that have been made to alleviate his particular kind of suffering. A crucial aspect of this process therefore is to determine who has the power to label suffers as victims, and for what purposes; accordingly writers must develop some notions of radical or critical victimology. The article argues that compensation programmes stemmed from a felt need to revalue the label, victim of crime. This was necessary because official explanations of criminality had, during the fifties and sixties, cast some offenders as victims and had thus, for many, devalued that label. The primary reason for introducing a compensation scheme is symbolic: it is to reaffirm a set of values about a particular kind of suffering; stereotypically the elderly and the weak. While there may be instrumental goals to be served by such schemes, in particular to recompense for financial loss or to benefit the operation of the criminal justice system, these are secondary concern. (Author abstract)
Index Term(s): Common law; Labeling theory; Restitution programs; Victim compensation
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