Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Criminals and Victims

Why is criminal justice treated as if it were a zero-sum game, that there must be the opposed forces of criminal and victims?

It seems that for every policy that effects criminal justice, and prisons in particular, there is some call that somehow it deprives victims of something. Anything! As if a policy that seems to benefit cons must automatically take something away from victims.

Here's a thought. That it is possible to treat prisoners with decency AND treat victims with empathy and support. These are not opposing aims, the one does not detract from the other.

Unless...should victims determine the fate of those who transgress against them? As was the inclination of the last government. Or should it be accepted that criminals and victims both have an interest in Justice, even if the outcome in the individual case leaves all involved unhappy?


  1. 'Here's a thought. That it is possible to treat prisoners with decency AND treat victims with empathy and support.'

    Such a wise statement. Peace and respect to you Ben.

  2. Exactly. The two are not in competition with each other; that's fallacious.

  3. The two truly opposing aims are punishment and reducing recidivism - we can't have revenge *and* reduce the numbers of future victims.

    At the moment, sadly, it seems people want revenge more than they want to protect others.

  4. Ultimately the system shouldn't be concerned with providing justice to the victim. The entire purpose of a criminal trial is to provide justice to the defendant. That is why criminal trials are always "The Crown" against "X" rather than "the Victim" against "X." (or before the days of the CPS, often the chief constable would be against the criminal)

    This is not to say that providing justice to the defendant needs to be nice. In cases where they are guilty to give them justice means to punish them for their crime. And the punishment should match the crime (and whilst the impact should be considered, it should not be the sole consideration) rather than the victim's wants.

  5. Just found this on a blog http://annedroid-annedroid.blogspot.com/

    By Judge Dennis Challeen:

    We want them to have self-worth
    So we destroy their self-worth

    We want them to be responsible
    So we take away all responsibility

    We want them to be positive and constructive
    So we degrade them and make them useless

    We want them to be trustworthy
    So we put them where there is no trust

    We want them to be non-violent
    So we put them where violence is all around them

    We want them to be kind and loving people
    So we subject them to hatred and cruelty

    We want them to quit being the tough guy
    So we put them where the tough guy is respected

    We want them to quit hanging around losers
    So we put all the losers under one roof

    We want them to quit exploiting us
    So we put them where they exploit each other

    We want them to take control of their lives, own problems and quit being a parasite...
    So we make them totally dependant on us.

  6. What about us taxpayers? We have to fund most of the pointless round of police, courts, prison, probation, benefits, police again etc.
    Of course it's good to support victims because the less traumatised they are, the less negative their influence on society.
    It's also good to support criminals in every feeble move they make towards improving their useless way of life, because the more they move away from crime, the more positive their influence on society.
    We pay the piper, we ought to use our common sense in calling the tune.