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NCJ Number: 98260 Find in a Library
Title: Criminal Justice Response to Victim Harm
Author(s): B E Forst; J C Hernon
Corporate Author: National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
US Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
United States of America
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 8
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Washington, DC 20531
National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
US Dept of Justice NIJ Pub
Washington, DC 20531
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
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United States of America

NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Document: PDF
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This research summary reports on victim harm and its impact not only on victims, but also on police, prosecutors, and judges in assessing criminal cases.
Abstract: There are no standards to determine how victim harm -psychological trauma, physical harm, and financial loss -- fits into criminal cases, in which the main issue is the defendant's guilt or innocence. Court practitioners -- police, prosecutors, and victim-witness staff -- and victims are interviewed. Their responses indicate that the victim declines as a direct source of information as the case proceeds from the police, to the prosecutor, to the judge. Except in areas where victim-witness programs exist, the degree of harm done to the victim is not effectively communicated throughout the system. Victim harm is not considered as a significant characteristic in screening criminal case factors, nor is it of major importance in sentencing. The most important variable appears to be the personal views of practitioners. Regarding victim satisfaction and improving relations with the courts, keeping victims informed is most often recommended by all groups. Improving social services, frequent use of restitution, and harsher treatment of offenders are also cited. The job of keeping victims informed could be assigned to the police, or to the prosecutor's office, where victim-witness units may be employed. Legislation to facilitate the use of victim-witness programs may improve communications between victims, practitioners, and agencies that aid victims. A victim impact statement, recently federally mandated and being used in some State courts, could provide the judge with first-hand information about the victim's injury and the effects of the crime on the victim's life. Treatment of victims and sensitivity to their requirements can be accommodated to the rights of the defendant and within the court processes. For full text document, refer to NCJ 93664.
Index Term(s): Police services for victims; Police-victim interaction; Psychological victimization effects; Restitution; Victim attitudes; Victim compensation; Victim impact statements; Victim services; Victim/Witness Advocates
Note: National Institute of Justice Research in Brief (June 1985).
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