Victimology is defined as the study of victims. This study originated in the 40s. It was made famous by Mendelsohn. Although, it gained popularity much later, impacting criminal justice policy. Transforming criminal law and the way of administration. The study of victims was an enlargement on the study of criminals and crimes. The victims also provided a clear, vivid image of the crime scene. The study of victims solely independent of crime and criminals is a contribution by a specific group of women who fought for womens rights. Women who were sexually abused in crime scenes or maybe domestic violence, children, the seniors, disabled and another movement in support of different category of victims. The emergence of this groups has changed the way the relevant authorities treat crime victims.
Victims suffer a significant loss in case of a crime. Loss of property or financial material. This kind of problem was dealt with in two ways. Restitution and compensation were the two methods used for returning the victims to a financial situation they were before the crime occurred (Wallace & Roberson, 2015). Restitution this is a direct payment by the lawbreaker to the victim for the damage or loss. In recent times, restitution was the most common way or method of payment. Government being centralized the fines law offenders brought were given to kings as a treasure rather than given to the victims.
Restitution became less impacting when the lawbreakers were found to be languishing in poverty with no property or a decent job for their sustenance. Community services is another form of restitution that came up. The communitys welfare is taken into consideration instead of the individual victim. White collar offenses, restitution is the most appropriate form of punishment.
Compensation was another common way of punishment enacted in case of financial costs in the event of a crime. The reasoning behind compensation is that since the community was not successful in protecting the property from the criminal. The financial loss incurred is to be shared by the whole community. Compensation by the state was enforced for citizens and victims to be vigilant and aware of criminals. Involving citizens in the security of the state to improve cooperation with the police or relevant law enforcing authorities. Compensation is done to direct loss of property or injury. Consisting of medical bills, burial arrangements, and other personal damages. The funds are released from state funds on a claim by an eligible victim.
The support provided by the administration is not proving to be a lot useful. The funds are only available to victims of violent crimes who are not in any way associated with the lawbreaker and prove to be unstable financially. Those who apply are not given the opportunity due to the rules stated for eligibility, and if they make the loss is not fully covered (Shoham, Knepper, & Kett, 2010). Victimized women are not given anything and undermined. The award of compensation is another problem that is. Those seeking compensation are frustrated increasing their disaffection when given empty promises.
The most frequent problem expressed by all victims is distress. This can be long-term or short-term trauma and psychological distress that is directly from emotional injury. Close friends and family get affected too due to the relationship and bond among them. Those who have been sexually assaulted usually have the urge of committing suicide for losing sexual identity. The general problems with victimization are fear, anger, self-blame, nervousness, low self-worth and esteem, insomnia, social phobia, and insecurity. Agencies and programs that assist victims prove to be helpful. Although, a study shows that the people most close to the victim offer more help and support to the victim than agencies or programs. Professional specialized support by criminal justice agencies cannot be ignored all the same.
The interest by the judicial system in victims. Has contributed to a move by the state and nation in improving the treatment of victims. Not due to the caring or social motives but most importantly the information that witness bear in the role of being a witness. Otherwise, a witness is of little or no concern for the criminal justice systems. Many reports of victims' ill-treatment. Threatening by offenders' family, justice practitioner who are insensitive to a victim's feelings of the traumatizing occurrence. It is assumed that better treatment of witness by criminal justice will persuade the victims to testify and to give witness statements (Helms, 2006). These services have proved to be useful in some instances but not all. Victims who are made to testify as witnesses do not gain in any way. Rather, they are prepared to make the case go through and convict the offender more quickly.
Necessary amendments on the federal level have been done to protect witnesses, victims and the public in general. The Federal Victim and Witness Protection Act of 1982 makes it a misdemeanor to intimidate a victim or witness. Although, victim involvement is not stated in this law. The most arising issue from victims is the concern on alienation and frustration. The complaints of victims are a lack of participation by criminal justice systems in the involvement of decision-making process.
Victims need to be involved for they have firsthand information and could have an insight to a particular criminal case. When the victims are ignored, they feel alienated. When they wish to be involved in the decision-making process is shut, on a matter that they are directly affected, does not prove to be a wise move by criminal justices. The court views victims primarily as witnesses while the victims feel that they are parties. Therefore, they believe that they bear right to make decisions in such a case. For the case is theirs. This is not usually the case. The justice system feels that giving the right to the victim a decision-making right is wrong. Explaining that the victim will have the upper hand over the defendant. Denying the defendant rights as well.Prosecutors are reluctant in including victims in their case in fear of erosion. It is also quite expensive to include a victim in the case. When a victim is involved in the passing of sentence, there is the difficulty for the victim may offer an emotional response. According to the loss and anguish. Also, the victim may not know of any other sentence like community service or restitution, other than jail terms due to lack of knowledge of the law.
The victims are usually affected in various kind of ways, with restitution and compensation as a way of returning them in the financial state they were. Restitution has become redundant due to the constraints, similar to compensation. Therefore, victims are never really satisfied with the criminal justice agencies.
Helms, R. (2006). Index to Criminal Justice Policy Review. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 17(4), 493-495. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/088740340601700406Shoham, S., Knepper, P., & Kett, M. (2010). International handbook of victimology (1st ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Wallace, H. & Roberson, C. (2015). Victimology (1st ed., pp. 317-329). Boston, Mas: Pearson.
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