Source: (2009) Law and Contemporary Problems. 72(2):227-231.

One of the benefits of O’Hara’s and Robbins’ proposal to give greater power and choice to victims is that, for those who choose VOM and for those who choose to exercise their choice in sentencing, it creates a quasi-ceremonial space that doesn’t currently exist. Some participants to this symposium have made the noncomplimentary comment that victim impact statements run the risk of becoming a “ritualized public performance.”11 But it may be worth taking this risk to reap the greater benefit that a victim might receive from having something rather than nothing. In creating a process that restores status and voice and the potential for a heartfelt apology, we are on the first step of transforming the justice system into a more healing space. Under the current system, in which the victim is so often shut out and shut up, there is no ritual and therefore, no healing. I applaud O’Hara and Robbins for their contributions in helping to push the system toward creating those “safe, if not sacred spaces” wherein the work of apology, forgiveness, and reconciliation can begin. (excerpt)


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