What is your personal stance on the current state of victims’ rights in America?
I believe that everyone that has been a victim of abuse past or present and even future should have the proper rights to be able to cope with their abuse. According to http://www.victimsofcrime.org/help-for-crime-victims/get-help-bulletins-for-crime-victims/victims’-rights,
1. To be treated with dignity, respect, and sensitivity.
Victims generally have the right to be treated with courtesy, fairness, and care by law enforcement and other officials throughout the entire criminal justice process. This right is included in the constitutions of most states that have victims’ rights amendments and in the statutes of more than half the states.
2. Victim impact statements
Victim impact statements allow crime victims, during the decision-making process on sentencing or parole, to describe to the court or parole board the impact of the crime on their lives. The victim impact statement may include a description of psychological, financial, physical, or emotional harm the victim experienced as a result of the crime. A judge may use information from these statements to help determine an offender’s sentence; a parole board may use such information to help decide whether to grant a parole and what conditions to impose in releasing an offender. Many victims have reported that making victim impact statements improved their satisfaction with the criminal justice process and helped them recover from the crime. In some states, the prosecutor is required to confer with the victim before making important decisions. In all states, however, the prosecutor (and not the victim) makes decisions about the case.
3. Right to Be Informed
The purpose of this right is to make sure that victims have the information they need to exercise their rights and to seek services and resources that are available to them. Victims generally have the right to receive information about victims’ rights, victim compensation (see “Right to Apply for Compensation,” below), available services and resources, how to contact criminal justice officials, and what to expect in the criminal justice system. Victims also usually have the right to receive notification of important events in their cases. Although state laws vary, most states require that victims receive notice of the following events: •the arrest and arraignment of the offender
•dismissal of charges
•sentencing / trial
•probation or parole hearings
•release or escape of the offender
States have different ways of providing such information to victims. Usually, information about court proceedings is mailed to the victim. Some states have an automated victim notification system that automatically calls or e-mails the victim with updates on the status of the offender, while others require the victim to telephone the authorities to receive such updates.
4. Right to Protection
In many states, victims have the right to protection from threats, intimidation, or retaliation during criminal proceedings. Depending on the jurisdiction, victims may receive the following types of protection:
•witness protection programs
Some states also have laws to protect the employment of victims who are attending criminal proceedings (see “Right to Attend Criminal Proceedings,” above).
5. Right to Apply for Compensation
All states provide crime victim compensation to reimburse victims of violent crime for some of the out-of-pocket expenses that resulted from the crime. The purpose of compensation is to recognize victims’ financial losses and to help them recover some of these costs. All states have a cap on the total compensation award for each crime, and not all crime-related expenses are covered. To be eligible for compensation, victims must submit an application, usually within a certain period of time, and show that the losses they are claiming occurred through no fault of their own. Some types of losses that are usually covered include:
•medical and counseling expenses
Compensation programs seldom cover property loss or pain and suffering. Also, victim compensation is a payer of last resort; compensation programs will not cover expenses that can be paid by some other program, such as health insurance or workman’s compensation.
6. Right to Restitution from the Offender
In many states, victims of crime have the right to restitution, which means the offender must pay to repair some of the damage that resulted from the crime. The purpose of this right is to hold offenders directly responsible to victims for the financial harm they caused. The court orders the offender to pay a specific amount of restitution either in a lump sum or a series of payments. Some types of losses covered by restitution include:
7. Right to Prompt Return of Personal Property
Crime investigators must often seize some of the victim’s property as evidence for a criminal case. In most states, authorities must return such property to the victim when it is no longer needed. To speed up the return of property, some states allow law enforcement to use photographs of the item, rather than the item itself, as evidence. The prompt return of personal property reduces inconvenience to victims and helps restore their sense of security. 8. Right to a Speedy Trial
9. Right to Enforcement of Victims’ Right
To be meaningful, legal rights must be enforced. States are beginning to pass laws to enforce victims’ rights, and several states have created offices to receive and investigate reports of violations of victims’ rights. Other states have laws that permit victims to assert their rights in court
Do you believe that the 2004 Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CRVA) has been successful? Explain.
I believe that the Crime Victims’ Rights Act has been very successful. I believe that they are able to cope better than not having any type of rights. “Since the CVRA’s passage, United States Attorneys’ offices have developed an increased awareness and a more energetic approach to according victims their rights. In the nearly seven years since the CVRA went into effect, there has been a dramatic change in the role of victims in federal criminal cases. Victims are taking part in cases in greater numbers than ever before by attending court proceedings, exercising their right to be heard, and receiving notifications of public court proceedings. The number of identified victims in federal cases has more than tripled since the CVRA passed, increasing from 554,654 victims in 2004 to 2.2 million victims in 2010, a 298% increase. Victim notifications doubled to 5.7 million notices within one year of CRVA’s passage in 2004 and totaled nearly 8 million in 2010. In addition to the rights granted under the CRVA, crime victims receive services to help them through the criminal justice process. Pursuant to The Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance, victim service professionals in the various investigative agencies and litigating components in the Department of Justice provide numerous services to victims of federal crimes. These services begin at the investigative stage and continue through the prosecution stage, post-conviction proceedings, and imprisonment. The services include emergency assistance, counseling and social service referrals, assistance with creditors, providing information about victim impact statements, assistance with securing victim compensation, and restitution information.” (http://www.justice.gov/usao/briefing_room/vw/rights.html)
Is there ever a circumstance in which you feel revenge is appropriate, even when it means breaking a law? Explain your response.
I do and I don’t. I don’t know what I would do if someone were to kill a loved one of mine. If it was my child, I would probably go to extreme measures and not care about my consequences. If someone stole from me property I would let the police handle the situation. Do you agree with the actions of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP)? Why or why not? I completely agree with the actions of the SNAP associates. They went through a lot and they wanted to bring awareness and make sure no one else would go through the things that they went through. I do not blame them for doing what they did. What is done in the dark always needs to come to light.
Victim rights are very important, they make victims feel that they are sympathized with and they have a role in their offender’s case. This is a huge healing process and has been able to help millions cope knowing that their offender is put in jail.
The National Center of Victims of Crimes. (2012) Retrieved from http://www.victimsofcrime.org/help-for-crime-victims/get-help-bulletins-for-crime-victims/victims’-rights Crime Victims Rights Acts (2010) Retrieved from http://www.justice.gov/usao/briefing_room/vw/rights.html
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