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Select committee urged to avoid courtroom 'Oprahfication'

Apr 24, 2012

from the article on Voxy.co.nz:

Rethinking Crime and Punishment agrees that victims should be able to provide information to the court about the effects of offending; and the harm they have suffered. However, it does not believe that the presentation of a victim impact statement in the Court, was the best way to achieve it.

....Our experience with restorative justice conferences tells us that the victim's decision to meet with an offender is driven by one of three things. Firstly, they want to talk about the harm they have suffered, to challenge the offender about their actions, , and have them respond. Secondly, they want to understand why the offender committed the offence, their motivation, and personal circumstances. Thirdly, they want to assess whether the offender is genuinely sorry for what happened.

Victims will continue to be dissatisfied with the proposed arrangements, because the Court does not allow for that sort of dialogue. That is not its function. It leaves victims feeling angry and disempowered.

Mr Workman recommended that instead of a victim reading out a statement, a private facilitated meeting be held between the offender and victim, at which the victim was free to make their feelings known within acceptable limits, and the offender had the opportunity to respond. The outcome of the meeting would then be reported back to the Court, achieving the same purpose as a Victim Impact Statement, but in a way that was more satisfying to the victim.

Read the whole article.

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