My state does not have a victim rights initiative and thus as a representative in the legislative office, I deem it right to propose a bill which my state should adopt. This bill will come with many benefits, for instance, it will aim at protecting victims of various crimes. The laws of my state are more intent on protecting offenders and leaving victims to suffer the aftermath of crime alone. Restorative justice advocates suggestthat victims should be at the centerof the process because they are the ones who are most affected by the offending behavior of criminals (Braithwaite 11).Restorative justice puts into consideration the rights of the victims unlike the current retributive justice system which is being used in my state which ignores the rights of the victims. The bill will contain aspects in which the victims are given the opportunity to actively participate in the process of resolving the problem unlike the current system which does not afford victims the right of participation and expressing what they feel. This essay proposes and describes an ideal victim bill that should be adopted by my state and analyzes the benefits that will come with such a bill.
The bill aims to bring all those who are affected by the crime together with no exception of victims who are the ones most affected by a crime. The bill will propose compensation of victims for all that they encounteras a result of the commission of a crime, this can be done through a cooperative process that includes all the stakeholders also known as restorative justice. It is a process that brings together all those people who have been affected by the offence, for instance, the victim, offender, community and actors within the criminal justice system.
This will ensure that victims participate in resolving the crime unlike the current retributive system which has ignored the injured party.My initiative is premised on restorative justice where victims are given great consideration so that they can heal and become fully integrated in the society. Restorative justice will be crucial in empowering the victim and ensuring that their rights are catered for. The victim also has a sense of empowerment with the ability to share their emotions and how the offense has affected their lives by telling their own side of the story and has the power to agree with the ending resolution or not. Similarly, the offender who is also a victim of stigmatization has a sense of power in acceptance their fault, listening to the victim’s story and even sharing their own story as to what may have brought them to committing the crime(Zehr 306). This bill will make the victim to be relieved and feel that their rights are put into consideration by the criminal justice system.
Restorative justice will have to be implemented in police departments that are found within my state so as to ensure that all the agencies of the criminal justice system work together for the effective implementation of the program. Restorative justice practices rely on community networking and officer endorsement because the police are always the first ones to respond after a crime has been committed(Alarid, Fiftal, and Carlos 453). The police are among the first responders for various crimes and because of lack of a clear bill on the rights of victims, they are left with little options on the kind of assistance which can be offered to the victims. The police in my state will first have to be trained on the basic of restorative justice before the program is fully implemented.
The proposed approach will entail the participation of community members who are also affected by the effects of the crime, for example the injury that is inflicted on the victim. The community is also a victim of the offending behavior of the criminal and the involvement of the community is crucial towards the success of the whole process. The presence and support thereby provided by the community renders the process less stigmatizing for all affected by it. Restorative justice practices are described as being generally community driven and controlled thuds implying that the communityought to have ownership in the process. The community, for instance, shouldactively participate in the decision-making process with regard to the measures to betaken for redress and restoration.
The proposed approaches that will be used if the bill is adopted will include;
Victim impact panels
This is an approach which allows victims of different crimes to meet and tell the story the way it was. They are forums for crime victims to explain the realworld impact of crime and how their lives have been affected by the crime. The contact that victims have with different offenders makes them to know the motives of the offenders and realize that anyone can be a victim of what befell them.
This is another approach that puts into consideration the rights of the victims by allowing them to meet their real offenders.The intention of mediation between the two parties is to involve the victim and the offender in repairing the harm that is caused as a result of the offending behavior of the criminal. It also provides an opportunity for all the parties to express their feelings unlike the current retributive system which only affords the offender an opportunity to express his/her feelings. This approach also aids the parties to agree on a plan that ensures that the victim is compensated through restitution and thus feels relieved of the harm that he/she suffers.
Conferencing will be crucial in bringing together the victim, offender, and family, friends and key supporters who will help in addressing the problems that those who have a stake in the offence encounter. The current retributive system only puts into consideration the views of the offender and other actors within the criminal justice system while neglecting the rights of the victim. Putting into consideration viewsof victims is critical in ensuring that their freedom of expression which is not catered for in the current retributive system is taken care of the proposed bill. The goals of conferencing will be giving the victim an opportunity to be involved in resolving the problem and providing an opportunity for the offender to take responsibility because the offender is also a victim of being stigmatized by the community due to his/her acts. It provides victims and offenders anopportunity to participate in and interact with the process, in a respectful and lessantagonistic mannerbecause it is conducive to the expression ofgrievances and to reconciling both parties.A conference commences when the victim, the offender, and the supporters of each are brought together with a trained facilitator to discuss the incident and the harm it has caused and proceeds with the victim describing the incident and each participant describing the impact of the incident on his or her life and thus relieving him/her of the bitter inner feelings.
This is another approach that I propose to be implemented in my state so as to take care of the rights of the victims which have been neglected for long.The process will be designed to develop consensus among different parties, for instance, victims, victim supporters, offenders and other stakeholders in the criminal justice system. Resolutions which will be reached as a result of the process will help in addressing factors that are found within the community that cause people to get involved in criminal behavior.
The practices of restorative justice have been proven very successful in other states that have embraced the approach and thus it is imperative for my state to borrow a leaf. This could change public debate about crime and justice completely because the idea behind crime and justice is beginning to move further away from the traditional, retributive system towards a more liberal, restorative justice system that focuses on victim involvement.
The approaches that have been discussed above are the best in ensuring that the victims’ rights are put into consideration. My state should adopt this approach to ensure that the rights if the victims are not neglected as it is evident in the current retributive system that has been embraced for many years. This approach is the most appropriate for my state because if adopted it will make victims to feel secure and recognized by the criminal justice system.
Alarid, Leanne Fiftal, and Carlos D. Monte mayor. “Implementing Restorative Justice in Police Departments.” Police Practice & Research 13.5 (2012): 450-463. Academic Search Premier. Web. 8 July 2016.
Braithwaite, John. Restorative justice & responsive regulation. Oxford University Press on Demand, 2002.
Zehr, Howard. “Commentary: Restorative Justice: Beyond Victim-Offender Mediation.” Conflict Resolution Quarterly 22.1/2 (2004): 305-315. Business Source Complete. Web. 9 July 2016.