Crime Victims Updates

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VICTIMS AND THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

VICTIMS AND THE POLICE

POLICE OFFICERS CAN BE TRAUMATIZED BY WITNESSING FIRST-HAND THE SUFFERING OF VICTIMS

Illustrates the emotional toll suffered by first repsonders as cited on p. 174 of Ch. 6.

Officers who responded to the massacre of elementary school children and their teachers in Newtown Connecticut in 2012 and experienced close-up the gruesome carnage reveal the stress and grief that burdens their personal and family lives. Read about the suffering of first responders here.

MOTHER OF MURDER VICTIM FAVORS MORE DNA TESTING OF ARRESTEES

Illustrates the possibility of victims’ rights gained at the expense of suspects, as listed in Table 13.1 on p. 414 in Ch. 13; also connects with cold case squads solving old murders, as described in the real-life example on p. 181 in Ch. 6.

A greater number of files in a DNA database might enable the police to solve more cases, and consequently more victims will feel that “justice was done” in their cases. But adding the DNA of suspects – not convicts – raises civil liberties concerns. View one mother’s view here.

VICTIMS AND PROSECUTORS

NO PROSECUTION WITHOUT COMPLAINANT COOPERATION

Connects to the discussion of prosecutors screening out cases on p. 197 in Ch. 7.

In one of New York City’s boroughs, the district attorney’s (county prosecutor’s) office has adopted a policy that leads to a dropping of charges against arrestees in a substantial percent of cases: If the victim does not come forward to be interviewed within 24 hours, the case is considered to be weak. Read the pro’s and con’s of this policy here.

VICTIMS AND JUDGES

VICTIM URGES LENIENCY BUT JUDGE IMPOSES HARSH PRISON TERM

Illustrates the issue of what victims want: punishment, treatment, or restitution on p. 164 of Ch.6; also, victim imput into sentencing, on p. 204 of Ch. 7.

A woman was shot by a teenager aiming at a member of a rival gang. Given his age at the time, 16, she wrote a letter stating her opinion, urging the judge to show him leniency. But the judge did not follow her recommendation, and imposed a stiff penalty of 18 years. Read about the case here.

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