It has been argued that victims do not receive equal protection from the criminal justice system's administration of justice because victims' needs and desires are too often not taken into account by prosecutors and criminal justice professionals. In fact, victims' interests may deviate from the State's interests. Victims' rights advocates argue that is patently inequitable to the victim to attend to the needs--material, psychological, legal, etc.--of the offender while taking no responsibility for the well-being of victims.

At the most fundamental level of advocacy, victims seek standing--to have rights of participation in the process, to wield their influence and protect their interests. Among other things, this entails the rights to give testimony during the guilt and sentencing phases; to receive reparations; to be informed of court proceedings; and to be represented by counsel. Some victims' rights advocates pursue legislative recognition of victims' rights, while others pursue constitutional remedies.

Critics of victims' rights advocacy warn that expanding victims' rights could compromise defendants' rights of due process. However, since restorative justice places a premium on proactively involving both victim and offender, granting rights of participation to victims need not compromise rights accorded to the accused.

This document prepared by Christopher Bright. Copyright by Prison Fellowship International.