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Crime Victims: An Introduction to Victimology Seventh Edition

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Presentation on theme: "Crime Victims: An Introduction to Victimology Seventh Edition"— Presentation transcript:

1 Crime Victims: An Introduction to Victimology Seventh Edition
By Andrew Karmen Chapter Seven: Victims and the Criminal Justice System: Cooperation and Conflict, Part 2: Prosecutors, Defense Attorneys, Judges, and Corrections Officials

2 Victims and Prosecutors
Prosecutors are chief law enforcement officer within the jurisdiction How they can serve victims: Keep victims informed of status of case Support victims with judges, bail, continuances, negotiated pleas, dropped charges, sentences and restitution Protect from harassment, threats, injuries and forms of intimidation and reprisals Resolve as quickly as possible Assist victims in recovering property from police

3 Victims and Prosecutors
Victim Witness Assistance Projects (VWAP) To address witness and victim complaints Intended to restore victims’ faith in CJ system Personal intervention as soon as possible Immediate relief to injured parties: Hotlines, shelter, food, counseling, transportation and immediate lock repairs

4 Victims and Prosecutors
VWAP Services Recover lost property quickly Provide information about reimbursement for losses and compensation benefits Keep victims informed of case developments 1974—35% of DA offices routinely notified felony victims of case outcomes 1992—97%

5 Victims and Prosecutors
Protecting Victim Witnesses Intimidation Criminals, families and acquaintances of offenders, gangs, own family attempting to have victim drop charges—cultural issues—see Table 7.1, page 172 Prosecutor should offer victim: Protective services, phone number change, door locks, Orders of Protection, new home or relocate, Victim Witness-Protection Program

6 Victims and Prosecutors
Dismissing or rejecting charges based on several issues: Lack of evidence, unreliable witnesses Police officials, others in prosecutor’s office, defense attorneys, judges, community leaders, media, and vocal interest groups can all affect prosecutor’s decision 51% of all felony cases in 1981 not pursued 45% of all felony cases in 1988 not pursued

7 Victims and Prosecutors
Negotiating Pleas Defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for some kind of consideration (usually a reduction in charges) 97% of convictions secured by accused admitting guilt—often reduced from felony to misdemeanor In anticipation of the above, police and prosecutors engage in: Bedsheeting Overcharging

8 Victims and Prosecutors
Plea negotiations result in: Reducing court caseloads Definite conviction (which might not happen if the case goes to trial) Preventing rape victims from testifying Preventing children from testifying Prosecutors often feel threatened by involvement of victims—revenge motive Few jurisdictions provide defined role for victims Victims may not challenge decisions of prosecutor

9 Victims and Defense Attorneys
Natural enemy to victim Attempts to protract the process, discredit witnesses Sixth Amendment guarantees a “Speedy Trial”— states have time limits for trial after arrest Efforts to delay wear down witnesses, affect memory of witnesses, find info about witnesses and victims Eventually encourages victim to drop or reduce charges

10 Victims and Defense Attorneys
General Rule: The more serious the charge, the longer it takes to go to trial—1988 Data: Plead guilty—114 days arrest to sentencing Trial—241 days arrest to sentencing Murder cases—313 days; Rape cases—133 days; Robbery cases—108 days

11 Victims and Defense Attorneys
Sixth Amendment provides that defendants have the right to confront their accusers Trials are relatively rare events Due to competition between sides, courtroom tactics seem harsh and mean-spirited Cast aspersions on character of victim Often trashes victim in controversial cases

12 Victims and Judges Most conflict results during bail setting and sentencing Eighth Amendment prohibits excessive bail 2/3 of victims of serious crimes face the prospect that offender harming them will be out on bail prior to case being resolved Denying of bail results in offender going to jail and being punished before conviction

13 Victims and Judges Sentencing can be influenced by victims in two ways: 1. Conveying their requests in writing to the judge 2. Expressing their views orally in person at sentencing hearing (allocution) Victim Impact Statements (VIS) can provide valuable information to a judge Often included in a pre-sentence investigation and reviewed by judge prior to sentencing

14 Victims and Judges U.S. Supreme Court ruled that VIS were not admissible in the penalty phase of a murder trial (Booth v. Maryland, 1987) Court reversed itself in 1991, Payne v. Tennessee, stating VIS was admissible during penalty phase if execution was an option for a jury Practice of using VIS not widespread for judges See Box 7.1, page 184 for more U.S. Supreme Court rulings regarding victims—majority of these decisions rejected victim arguments

15 Victims and Corrections Officials
Victims more likely to have contact with probation and parole agents than prison officials Victims want three things from agents: Know when offenders are on parole Protected from harassment or harm If court ordered restitution, want it on time Corrections to keep victim advised of offender’s address—VINE System

16 Victims and Corrections Officials
Parole boards often receive criticism from both victims and victim groups Typically opposed to “early release” Want to abolish Support determinate sentencing Parole Boards to provide victims opportunity to appear at parole hearing—Very few victims take advantage VIS is included in offender’s file for the parole board to review in making release decisions

17 “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” 14th Amendment promises “equal protection under the law” Is justice blind to all groups in the pursuit of justice? Are all victims handled equally? See Box 7.2, page 189—Which Victims Get Better Treatment? “Differential handling” needs to be researched again to see if Box 7.2 data still persists today

18 Key Terms District Attorneys Assistant District Attorneys Plea
Negotiations Consideration Plea Bargain Cop a plea Bedsheeting Overcharging Sentence disparity Courtroom Work Group Equal Protection under the law Second Class Treatment Differential Handling Blind Justice Red Carpet Allocution Disposed of Going Rate VIP Treatment Victim Impact Statements Pre-sentence Investigation Report Bifurcated Capital Trials

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