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The struggle for “ownership of conflict”: An exploration of victim participation and voice in the criminal justice system.

Englebrecht, Christine M.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2011) Criminal Justice Review. 36(2):129-151.

In the past several decades, the victims’ rights movement has advocated for a more inclusive criminal justice system, one that would allow victims greater voice. In response, states have created opportunities for victims to participate in the various stages of the justice process. One example of this inclusion is the victim impact statement that allows victims the opportunity to share their stories and victimization experiences with the court. And, while there is an abundance of research examining the effects of these statements on certain outcomes (e.g., sentencing), few studies have explored how the victim’s role in the justice process is created in relation to, or perhaps in conflict with, criminal justice workers. The current study used in-depth interviews with criminal justice officials and families of homicide victims to uncover views of victim participation. Results indicated that while most members of the courtroom workgroup felt victims should have a role in the justice process, they believed that role should be limited. Conversely, advocates and crime victims sought a more pronounced role for victims in the justice process. These disparate views caused conflict between these groups and raised questions about the nature of the role for victims in the justice process. (author’s abstract)


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