Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

What if we gave victims of serious crimes the opportunity to face the offenders?

Apr 12, 2013

from the article by Robb Davis in the People's Vanguard of Davis:

There has been much speculation about the factors that might lead someone to commit the kind of crime that was perpetrated against Mikey Partida.  While some of it may be premature it is a normal human response to try to make sense of something that is so senseless.

….Lisa Rea, founder of Restorative Justice International, who has worked in restorative justice since 1992 believes that victims of crime do not want some vague sense of "closure" but rather they want to regain a sense of safety, security and healing.  She argues in a 2012 article[1] that for many victims the healing process would be facilitated by an opportunity to face the offender, ask him/her questions, describe the harm that was done, and seek a way for the harms done to them to be made right.  She notes: "...(T)hroughout my work the number of victims who are seeking to participate in some kind of restorative justice dialogue is increasing."

Unfortunately, as Ms. Rea also notes, our criminal justice system does not make it easy for victims who desire this kind of mediated process to obtain it.  There are many reasons for this but two seem to predominate:  First, our criminal justice system defines crime as committed against the state-not first and foremost against individuals and communities (pause for a moment and ask how the crime against Mr. Partida has negatively affected our community).  The offender, if convicted, is punished by the state and on the state's terms - the debt is owed to the state first and foremost.  This is demonstrated colloquially in phrases like "he paid (or must pay) his dues to society."

Where is the victim in all of this? Generally victims are left out of most of the process, and this is related to the second reason why victims cannot obtain access to a restorative process even if they desire it.  Ms. Rea says that many victims have expressed that "they feel used by the system, like they are just pawns in its game to convict and sentence the offender."  District attorneys, generally speaking, "control" the victim's narrative.  The victim is "theirs" and they may need the victim (and/or the victim's family) to play a certain role in order to assure that a conviction is achieved.  To say that DAs seek to control the victim's narrative does not imply wrongdoing on their part. As noted, they are part of a system that views crime as something committed against the statutes of the state.  They do what they must to find relief for the state.

Read the whole article.

Document Actions

Add comment

You can add a comment by filling out the form below. Plain text formatting. Comments are moderated.

RJOB Archive
View all

About RJOB

Donate

 

Correspondents

Eric Assur portlet image

 

LN-blue
 

 lp-blue

 

lr

 

dv-blue

 

kw-blue

 

mw-blue