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 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.

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…

With State of the Union, Obama Has A Last Chance to Lead on Criminal Justice Reform

Michael Haugen | January 12, 2016
In tonight’s State of the Union address, President Obama has an opportunity to draw on the lessons and successes of conservative states to finally propel criminal justice reform into…

Marc Levin: Being ‘Right on Crime’ Means ‘Right-Sizing the Prison System’

Michael Haugen | December 3, 2015
Last month, Avni Majithia-Sejpal, senior writer for the Center for Court Innovation, interviewed Right on Crime Policy Director Marc Levin at the ‘Reinvesting in Justice’ conference in Dallas about…

What the Republican Candidates Said About Criminal Justice Reform at the Second Debate

Greg Glod | September 21, 2015
On Wednesday, the top eleven Republican Presidential candidates met at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for the second Republican debate. The over three-hour marathon discussion focused largely on quibbles…

According to BJS Survey, Criminal Victimizations Continue Their Downward Trend

Michael Haugen | September 8, 2015
A new Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) bulletin released last month examining criminal victimizations for 2014 shows decreases in the incidence of both violent and property crime victimization compared…

Pat Nolan Discusses Drug Rehab Programs, Justice Reform Legislation on “The Jimmy Barrett Show”

Right on Crime | July 20, 2015
Last Friday, Right on Crime Senior Fellow Pat Nolan appeared on “The Jimmy Barrett Show” to discuss various aspects of the criminal justice system across the country, innovative reforms…

“Wrongful Convictions Tax Relief Act” Would Exempt Restitution Awards From Federal Taxation

Michael Haugen | July 17, 2015
In the 112th Congress, Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Rep. John Larson (D-CT) introduced H.R. 4241, a bill to “amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide tax…

Tony Perkins: Alaska Criminal Justice Commission Will Save Money, Help Families Stay Intact

Michael Haugen | June 23, 2015
In the Alaska Dispatch News this Father’s Day weekend, Family Research Council president and Right on Crime signatory Tony Perkins wrote a commentary calling attention to one of the…

Texas Gov. Abbott Signs A Wide Variety Of Criminal Justice Reform Bills Into Law

Michael Haugen | June 22, 2015
Fresh on the heels of the juvenile justice reform bills he signed into law late last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott followed suit on Saturday by signing a wide…

On “The Steve Deace Show,” Senior Policy Analyst Derek Cohen Discusses Right On Crime Initiative

Right on Crime | June 15, 2015
On Friday last week, Right on Crime senior policy analyst Derek Cohen joined guest host Rebecca Maxwell on “The Steve Deace Show” to discuss conservative criminal justice reform. Topics…

ROC’s Senior Policy Analyst Derek Cohen Talks Conservative Justice Reform On “The Bill Meyer Show”

Right on Crime | June 12, 2015
Last week, Right on Crime senior policy analyst Derek Cohen joined “The Bill Meyer Show” on Oregon’s AM-1440 KMED, to discuss the Right on Crime campaign, in particular the…

Right On Crime Seeks To Improve The Criminal Justice System In Its Entirety

Michael Haugen | May 20, 2015
In a new column for The New Republic released on Monday, Stephen Lurie correctly acknowledges that our sprawling criminal justice system has recently enjoyed widespread attention from lawmakers and…
Connect With Right on Crime
STAY Informed: