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PUBLICATIONS

Victims

THE ISSUE. When a property crime or a violent crime occurs, the primary aggrieved party is the individual victim, not the government, and thus the compensation should go primarily to the individual victim, not the government.  This idea has been around for centuries, and the concept is found in the sacred texts of nearly every major religion.  In the modern world, however, we have drifted away from this essential truth.  A telling example is the “style” of criminal cases, which are written as ‘Defendant v. [The State],’ rather than ‘Defendant v. [Victim.]’  The case styles reveal that our system now focuses more on prosecuting defendants for the harm they have done to society at large, rather than the harm they have done to their victim.  It is important to pay attention to the effect crime has on society, but we must not neglect the victim’s rights.

In the investigation and prosecution of crimes, victims must be included at every stage and meaningfully empowered. Opportunities for more informal restorative practices should also be considered for non-violent first time offenses.

Informal restorative practices are not likely to displace the modern criminal justice system, due to factors such as population growth, urbanization, and the transient nature of many modern communities.  Nevertheless, a growing body of evidence indicates the benefit – to victims, taxpayers, and offenders – of integrating practices designed to empower and restore victims into today’s criminal justice process.

THE IMPACT. Mediation – in appropriate cases in which participation is voluntary both for victim and offender—offers victims an expedited means of obtaining justice in contrast with protracted pretrial proceedings, jury selection, and appeals.  A mediation agreement is ratified by the prosecutor or judge.  Failure to comply subjects the offender to traditional prosecution and, if necessary, incarceration.  Because mediation enables offenders to avoid a conviction on their record, they are often more successful in finding or retaining jobs that enable them to pay restitution.

A national study found that 95 percent of cases resolved through victim-offender mediation result in a written agreement, 90 percent of which are completed within one year, far exceeding the average restitution collection rate of 20 to 30 percent.  Furthermore, 79 percent of victims who participated in mediation were satisfied, compared with 57 percent in the traditional court system.  Also, the 1,298 juveniles who participated in mediation were 32 percent less likely to re-offend.

In addition to mediation, a greater emphasis should be placed on victims’ input throughout the criminal justice process.  The voice of the victim should be more closely considered by judges and prosecutors at every stage.

THE CONSERVATIVE SOLUTION.

• The criminal justice system should be structured to ensure that victims are treated with dignity and respect and with the choice to participate, recieve restitution, and even be reconciled with first time non-violent offenders.

• In appropriate cases, enable crime victims to choose pretrial victim-offender mediation.

• Expand victims’ access to offenders’ funds by lowering exemption thresholds that apply to restitution orders when they are converted into civil judgments.

• Use amount and share of restitution actually collected as a performance measure for probation and parole systems.

Justice, Rights, and Hope for Victims

Scott Peyton | May 26, 2020
Across the country, April 19-25 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This year’s theme is “Seek Justice | Ensure Victims’ Rights | Inspire Hope.”  Criminal justice advocacy must account…

Support crime victims with real solutions

Katie Greer | April 10, 2018
The criminal justice system exists to uphold public safety. A large part of that responsibility includes delivering justice to victims. However, what that looks like can vary from state…

Senator Hatch’s Bill Protects Americans from Bad Lawmaking

Joe Luppino-Esposito | October 19, 2017
Senator Orrin Hatch has once again shown to be a true leader for criminal justice reform. The Mens Rea Reform Act is a seemingly obvious piece of legislation. However,…

Townhall Interviews Kurt Altman on Conservative Criminal Justice Reform

Right on Crime | October 3, 2017
In this interview with Townhall, Right on Crime’s Arizona State Director, Kurt Altman, gives the rundown on conservative criminal justice reform. As Kurt outlines, Right on Crime’s top priority…

Where is a prosecutor’s time best spent?

Julie Warren | September 27, 2017
I recently came across an opinion piece in the Midland Times authored by Laura Nodolf, the District Attorney for Midland, Texas, wherein she presented the question: “Where is a…

Unconstitutional Use of Civil Asset Forfeiture

Julie Warren | July 11, 2017
In Tennessee, police officers may legally take your property based on nothing but a mere suspicion that it might have ties to criminal activity. The seizing agency gets to…

Is It Time to Scale Back on SWAT Teams?

Randy Petersen | May 19, 2017
This article originally appeared in The Hill on May 18, 2017. It began with an Austin Police helicopter circling the skies over his normally quiet neighborhood and ended with tear…

Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force Recommendations for Criminal Justice Reform Released Today

Elain Ellerbe | March 16, 2017
After 10 months of digging into the drivers of Louisiana’s worst ranked prison population by rate, the bi-partisan Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force rolled out its recommendations at a…

President Trump Keeps Safety, Law Enforcement, and Victims at Top of Mind

Joe Luppino-Esposito | March 3, 2017
In his first address to Congress, President Donald Trump covered a wide range of issues facing the US, including crime rates. Though many in the media have greatly exaggerated…

New Illinois Bill Providing Greater Sentencing Flexibility, Trauma Recovery Services Heads to Governor’s Desk

Right on Crime | January 20, 2017
This post was written by Right on Crime research associate Jace Waechter. On Tuesday, the Illinois Senate passed a bill giving judges more sentencing alternatives for non-violent offenders and began the…

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

Right on Crime | April 15, 2016
This week marked National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a week dedicated to remembering the pain and suffering of those impacted by criminal activity, as well as highlighting solutions to…

New Maryland Bill Would Allow Former Perjurers to Testify On Own Behalf

Right on Crime | March 16, 2016
Imagine being the victim of a heinous crime and having no other witnesses to the act. Now imagine that no court could hear your testimony. That is the real…
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