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Cooling out’ Victims of crime: Managing victim participation in the sentencing process in a superior sentencing court

Booth, Tracey
June 4, 2015

Source: (2012) Australian & New Zealand journal of Criminology 45(2) 214-230

Victim participation in the sentencing hearing by way of oral victim impact statements (VISs) is
a contentious aspect of contemporary criminal justice. A particular concern is that the disjuncture
between the legal goals of the sentencing hearing on the one hand and the goals of
victims on the other can generate tension and conflict in the courtroom and threaten the
integrity of the process. The subject of this article is the management and containment of
victim participation in 18 sentencing hearings observed in the NSW Supreme Court. It is
argued that various cooling out structures and processes effectively managed and contained
the emotional tension in the courtroom as well as assisted victims to adjust to the legal
constraints and the compromise inherent in their position in the process.


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