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Victims’ Perspectives on Restorative Justice: How Much Involvement are Victims Looking For?

Wemmers, Jo-Anne
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) International Review of Victomology. 11(2/3): 259-274.

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, the crime victim is relegated to the role of witness to a crime against the state. Due to concerns over the possible threat to the rights of the accused, victim vindictiveness and sentencing severity, victim participation in the criminal justice system has been met with resistance. In relation to restorative justice, while victims are clearly considered to be parties with a stake in the offense, victim satisfaction is not always a goal of restorative justice. This leads to the possibility of restorative justice programs being insensitive to the needs of crime victims, thereby placing an additional burden on the victim. This paper presents data from a study of 56 victims of crime who participated in a victim-offender mediation program in Montreal, Canada and presents an understanding of the role that victims prefer to play in the criminal justice process. The data suggest that the majority of victims are well aware of the risk of introducing arbitrariness into sentencing if victims are granted decisionmaking power. Most victims are clear that while they want input, they are content to leave decision control in the hands of authorities. Victims seem to want recognition. They want to have a voice in the criminal justice process. Victims want a voice that will be heard, but where they won’t bear the burden of decisionmaking power. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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