Criminology Essay

2134 words - 9 pages

Victims of crime are commonly known as the person(s) affected by the doings of a criminal perpetrator directly or indirectly. Although the definition of crime is legally constructed in our day to day life, this essay will explore on the definition of crime from a socio-legal construct, thus highlighting both the effects of both legal and non-legally regarded criminal acts. The scope of this essay will focus on the needs of victims of crime such as crisis intervention, rehabilitation, legal rights, post-crisis intervention assistance measures such as courtroom assistance. The adequacy of the measures implemented will be contested and the compromise of defendant, prosecution and witness rights ...view middle of the document...

9) states that it is not allowed to deprive the defendant of his right to represent himself, of which Rock (2004) quoted the Lord Chief Justice as stating that the victim should not be treated as one till the court in its duty of truth seeking decides on the guilt of the defendant. This contests the push for victim rights which scholars have sought through criminal justice reform (Herrington, 1987). On the presumption of innocent till proven guilty in most inquisitorial system (Blondel, 2008), the ‘victim’ label has to wait. In addition to that, Black (1983) in McShane and Williams (1992) sought to highlight that victims do not entirely take up a passive role but could be in a relationship with the offender, possibly taking the roles of offender-victim inter-changeably.
Victims’ movement emerged in the early seventies, in line with the active emergence of civil rights movement. Christie (1977) mentioned that before the growth of modern state, victims are able to get redress from defendants or offenders directly, thus highlighting active participation of victims themselves. With the emergence of modern criminal justice system, Maguire (1991) states that the direct redresses were replaced by the state’s involvement in the justice system, thus implementing changes which minimises the victim’s role, such as, restricting victim’s role to a mere reporter of offences and witness in court and direct compensation were replaced with fines to governments and any private claims by victims will have to go through civil claims. To add further to the realization of victim’s plight, “second- wave feminism” ( Walters,2006, p.97) movements which gained grounds during the seventies indirectly promoted the victim’s movement through the pursuant of governmental responses and public awareness on women’s patriarchal abuse such as sexual abuse (Barnard, 2013). In the case of the United States, its judicial activism provided opportunities for civil rights activists to pursue their objectives through legal means (Fazio, 2012) and the active participation of citizens in making demands to governments, of which Ortiz (1984, p. 573) termed it as “political mobilization”. Victim support organisations however, started off as a voluntary organisation such as National Centre on Child Abuse and Neglect in US and the Rape Crisis London in the UK (Maguire, 1991). Christie (2010) in Simmonds (2013) iterated that the rise in victims help groups is a response to the state’s take-over of the criminal justice system, which leaves victims to fend for themselves.
State’s Adoption of the Victim Needs and its Critique
Developed western states (as compared to other developing countries), playing the role of governance realised the need to consider and adopt victim assistance as part of the government reform in response to the increasing momentum of civil rights movement. However, there is a balancing act needed in ensuring that victim’s voice and offender’s rights are fairly upheld...

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