Source: (2005) VOMA Connections no. 19 (Winter): 5, 10. Downloaded 3 May 2005.

Many victims of crime feel ignored, excluded, and profoundly disrespected by the criminal justice system. Opportunities to participate in the criminal justice process are narrowly defined and few. Victims’ emotional, physical, and financial needs are rarely fully addressed, if they are addressed at all. We know that crime and victimization tear at the fabric of community life and can fuel conditions that create even more crime. From this perspective, helping victims repair the harm caused by crime is an important investment with wide-ranging benefits for victims as well as for families, communities, and society. Traditionally, however, access to services and resources to help repair the harm of crime has not been viewed as a critical element of achieving justice for victims. Rather, justice for victims has commonly been viewed as meaningful participation in the criminal justice system and conviction of the offender. While these are important components of justice for victims, they present an incomplete vision of justice. Most victims never have a chance to participate in the criminal justice process because their offenders are never arrested or prosecuted. Furthermore, even if crime victims had every opportunity to participate and be heard in the criminal justice system, many would inevitably remain profoundly disappointed because the clear focus of the criminal justice system is on the offender and not the victim. Parallel Justice, an initiative being implemented in three states by the National Crime Victim Center, elevates the goal of helping victims rebuild their lives to fundamental component of justice. Parallel Justice requires us to decouple the pursuit of justice for victims from the administration of justice for offenders. (excerpt)

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