Source: (2002) Le Journal International De Victimologie. 1(4). Online document downloaded 11 December 2003.

The use of victim impact statements (VIS) at sentencing continues to generate controversy, even in countries such as Canada, where VIS have been in use for many years. While a great deal of research has addressed the use of these statements at sentencing, very little is known about the experience and perceptions of the professional for whom these statements are written: the judge. In this article, we report the findings from a survey of judges in Canada regarding their use of victim impact statements. Some critics of VIS have argued that these statements add nothing to the sentencing process, and simply raise false expectations among victims. The findings from this survey demonstrate that judges find victim impact statements to be a useful source of information at sentencing. Many judges reported that the VIS provided information that was unavailable from any other source. That said, many issues remain to be addressed with respect to victim impact statements in Canada. These findings will be of particular interest to jurisdictions contemplating the introduction of victim impact statements at the sentencing stage of the criminal process. (authors abstract)

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