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Parallel Justice: A New Framework for Providing Justice for Crime Victims

Herman, Susan
June 4, 2015

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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