Priority Issues: Victims
I. 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.
II. 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.
III. 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.
Aligning Incentives and Goals in the Texas Criminal Justice System by the Texas Public Policy Foundation
Restitution: A New Paradigm of Criminal Justice by Professor Randy Barnett
Restorative Justice in Texas by the Texas Public Policy Foundation
Treating Texas Crime Victims as Consumers of Justice by the Texas Public Policy Foundation
Victim-Offender Mediation and Plea-Bargaining Reform in Texas by the Texas Public Policy Foundation
Marc Levin: Remember and empower victims of crime
While crime has been declining for two decades, 1 in 14 Americans experienced a property crime and 1 in 40 a violent crime during 2012. To pay tribute to victims and survivors, the federal government has designated April 6 to 12, 2014 as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This is a time to turn our [...]:: Read More
“Reagan had it right: We must not forget America’s crime victims”
In celebration of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, ROC signatory and Director of the American Conservative Union’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform Pat Nolan, along with national crime victim advocate Anne Seymour, authored “Reagan had it right: We must not forget America’s crime victims” for Fox News. “At Right on Crime, we strongly believe that crime victims and [...]:: Read More
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
April 6-12 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Crime victims and survivors have an integral role in America’s criminal justice system and efforts to promote individual and public safety. The overall effectiveness of the criminal justice system relies significantly on victims’ willingness and ability to participate in justice processes. Right on Crime created the below infographic [...]:: Read More
Marc Levin, Right on Crime, featured in Texas Monthly
Right on Crime featured in Texas Monthly:: Read More
The New York Times: “America on Probation”
“Restoring common sense to sentencing is the obvious first step in downsizing prisons.” In his latest op-ed, Bill Keller of The New York Times, writes about the issue of mass incarceration in the U.S. and what our nation can do to reverse this trend. The ROC statement of principles is also cited in the article [...]:: Read More
Rollins: Criminal justice reform — Texas style
“October is Crime Prevention Month, and I am reminded that not long ago people spoke of the “Texas Model” as a purely punitive approach to criminal justice. Decades of steady prison growth consumed an ever-increasing percentage of the general budget. Even with the nation’s highest incarceration rate, Texas’ cities and towns were still plagued with [...]:: Read More
Fox News: “Conservatives join push to roll back mandatory prison sentences”
Following Marc Levin’s testimony before the U.S. Judiciary Committee, this Fox News story features Right on Crime, noting that “The project has since been part of recent, successful efforts in Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina to reform their systems through such changes as reducing penalties for low-level drug possessions; expanding the use of time- [...]:: Read More
Vikrant P. Reddy interviewed by Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis
Vikrant Reddy joined The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis today to talk about conservative ideas for criminal justice reform. They spoke about Senator Rand Paul’s speech to Howard University yesterday, as well as our broader Right on Crime issue set. LISTEN NOW! Also, here is a blog post up at the DC where Lewis describes the interview [...]:: Read More
West Virginia Senate Passes Criminal Justice Reform Bill
A few days ago, the West Virginia State Senate passed criminal justice reform bill SB371 by an overwhelming vote of 33-0. It’s unusual for any legislative body to pass a bill with zero “No” votes, but that’s exactly what happened on Thursday. The legislation, which would help West Virginia achieve the goals of ensuring public [...]:: Read More
Right on Crime minute video: Victim Conferencing
Thanks to Will Franklin for putting together our latest Right on Crime minute video. This video shows the power of victim conferencing to restore victims, reduce recidivism and ensure that restitution is paid. Check out the video by clicking here: RightOnCrimeVictimsConferencing:: Read More
View More from Victims »