The Victim’s Role in the Criminal Justice System

The traditional “triangular” courtroom structure—judge, prosecutor, and defendant—often ignores one major party: the victim.

A new paper written by David Rogers and Kerry Naughton of the Partnership for Safety and Justice argues that criminal justice systems and reformers need to place a greater emphasis on the role of crime victims. The authors posit that certain classes of crime victims have not been incorporated into the process at all, and they advocate for looking at the relationship between the crime victim and the justice system through a public safety framework. Their proposals include:

  • Focusing on a goal of reducing victimization;
  • Building coalitions to ensure support services for victims and those re-entering society; and
  • Ensuring the justice system responds to the victim’s needs (such as restitution) rather than simply closing cases.

Right on Crime has previously supported an increased role for victims. It is essential to remember that the victim—not the state—is the party who directly suffers the effects of a crime, and his or her voice should be heard in the criminal justice process. This paper from the Partnership for Safety and Justice introduces some thought-provoking ideas to achieve that goal.

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