Victimology: A Controversy in the Criminal Justice System
The criminal justice system in the United States can be defined as a network of organizations managing the prosecution of people accused of committing crimes and the punishment to those convicted. The system is comprised of multiple components, including law enforcement, the judiciary, and corrections, and the academia that provides the system with scientific facts and helps explain the phenomena encountered within it. This essay will consider victimology and analyze how it impacts criminal justice.
Victimology is a subset of criminology that considers the impact of criminal activity on victims. The primary purpose of victimology is to investigate the crime and causes of the victimization to provide practical solutions (Doerner & Lab, 2020). This field of study considered the social factors contributing to crime and victims’ well-being and mental health. Victimology has a substantial impact on the criminal justice system and the persons within it. It can be used to prepare law enforcement officers to interact with victims, ensuring they are not victimized further. In addition, it can provide information on risk factors for victimization and help reduce it in high-risk populations. The knowledge of the psychological effects of crime on the victims can be implemented to educate their offenders to decrease recidivism.
Victimization has a severe impact on the mental health and well-being of the victim of a crime. However, victimology offers several strategies to address the adverse effects. Restorative justice aims to repair the harm done to the victim and rehabilitate the offender (Doerner & Lab, 2020). Restorative conferences, including both parties, can be implemented to reduce the negative effects on the victims. Such meetings are voluntary and may include the victim, their families, and the offender and provide the former to express their needs and feelings to the latter (Doerner & Lab, 2020). The offender can also take the opportunity to apologize to the victim. Overall, restorative conferences allow the parties involved in the crime to express and resolve their feelings and provide resources for further therapy and support if needed.
Furthermore, a court decision in the criminal justice system can influence future decisions. Thus, in Giles v. California (2008), the victim’s testimony made before her murder was admitted to court despite her not being present for cross-examination by the defendant (Justia Law, 2021). Several judges argued that the testimony of the murder victim should not be admitted as they were not testimony, but it was concluded that the knowledge of the offender that the victim would not be able to testify illustrates the intent of wrongdoing (Justia Law, 2021). Thus, the use of force by the defendant who claimed self-defense against his murder victim was judged to be excessive and criminal. Overall, Giles v. California (2008) states the precedent for allowing the dynamics between the victim and the offender to be viewed as intent to silica and be admitted into court as testimony.
The use of force can also contribute to the victimization in the course of different crimes being committed. Notably, excessive force, as well as improper searches and false arrests, can be employed by law enforcement officers abusing their power (Alpert & Dunham, 1997). According to Kappeler et al. (1998), the authoritarian behavior models within the police force contribute to deviance within it, and the police officers having a different perspective on the use of force. Thus, officers can perceive an individual to be dangerous and implement excessive force to prevent that danger. Further victimization can occur if responsibility for the use of force is attributed to the victim. In this case, victims can be accused of looking and acting suspiciously, contributing to the trauma.
In summary, victimology is an important subset of criminology that considers the victim behavior and social factors contributing to victimization and the effects of criminal activity of the offender. It is utilized to teach law enforcement how to interact with victims to avoid further victimization, protect at-risk populations, and reduce recidivism rates. It can also be implemented to resolve conflicts between the victim and the offender and repairs the harm caused by crime.
Alpert, G. P., & Dunham, R. G. (1997). Policing urban America. Waveland Press.
Doerner, W. G., & Lab, S. P. (2020). Victimology (9th ed.). Routledge.
Justia Law. (2021). Giles v. California, 554 U.S. 353 (2008). Web.
Kappeler, V. E., Sluder, R. D., & Alpert, G. P. (1998). Forces of deviance: Understanding the dark side of policing (2nd ed.). Waveland Press.