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The construction and transformation of the victim identity in victim impact panels

Allen, Jennifer Marie
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Department of Sociology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

This study was designed to address the questions of (1) why victims participate in victim/offender rehabilitative programs, in particular victim impact panels, and (2) what issues victims attempt to address after their victimizations and whether victim impact panels serve as a means of addressing these issues. Qualitative research methods in the form of one-on-one interviews with victims of crime involved with victim impact panels were used to gather the information needed to answer the research questions. The subjects were recruited from four victim impact panel programs in the states of Illinois and Missouri. A total of 18 subjects were interviewed. The findings revealed that victims participated in victim impact panel programs because of restorative justice, psychological effects, stigma, religion, and for personal gratification. The victims also reported that they felt stigmatized by the criminal justice system and by significant others. Many of them faced self-blame, guilt, and embarrassment at their role in causing the criminal act. The data also revealed that victims had an increased fear of crime and feelings of dissatisfaction in the justice provided by the criminal justice system after the criminal incident. Lastly, evidence revealed that victims of crime used victim impact panels to abate the issues they faced with regard to stigma and fear of revictimization. Unfortunately, the findings did not demonstrate that victims were able to lessen the issue of inadequate justice by participating in the victim impact panel program. (author’s abstract)


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