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Victims, mediation and criminal justice

Wright, Martin
June 4, 2015

Source: (1998) In Support for crime victims in a comparative perspective, ed. Ezzat Fattah and Tony Peters, 189-203. A collection of essays dedicated to the memory of Prof. Frederic McClintock. With a preface by Ezzat Fattah and Tony Peters. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press.

Wright begins by noting a common, traditional distinction between civil and criminal law. Whereas the object of civil law is the redress of wrongs through compensation or restitution, the object of criminal law is punishment of the wrongdoer to prevent crime, satisfy a public sense of fitting retribution, and perhaps reform the wrongdoer. However, in recent decades changes have occurred in many countries that begin to make redress of the harm done to the victim more central to criminal law. Wright refers to a United Nations declaration on victims, a United Kingdom charter for victims, the rise of victim/offender mediation programs, and reparation programs. With this in mind, Wright describes the effects of criminal justice procedure on victims, with particular attention to the benefits of mediation procedures and reparation for victims. He also discusses issues and needs concerning victim/offender programs: for example, safeguards for the rights of both parties; the importance of careful planning; and the question of adequacy of such procedures for serious crimes. In the end, Wright claims that victim/offender mediation and reparation – pointing to a redefinition of the aims of criminal justice in terms of restoration rather than retribution – have much to offer victims, offenders, and communities.


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