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Crime Victims: An Introduction to Victimology Sixth Edition. By Andrew Karmen Chapter Two: The Rediscovery of Crime Victims. History of Victims. In ancient times, criminal justice focused on victims to seek redress for pain and suffering based upon biblical tenets and English Common Law

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Crime Victims: An Introduction to VictimologySixth Edition

By Andrew Karmen

Chapter Two:

The Rediscovery of Crime Victims

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History of Victims

  • In ancient times, criminal justice focused on victims to seek redress for pain and suffering based upon biblical tenets and English Common Law

  • Industrialization and urbanization began to diminish the role of victims

  • Victims lost control of government and judicial process

  • Ultimately became a civil rather than a criminal matter

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History of Victims

  • History in United States similar

  • In Colonial America, victims paid for warrants, for sheriff to investigate and to incarcerate

  • “Bill of Rights” focused on hostilities toward the “state”

    • Focused on protecting rights of criminals

  • Violation of laws more important than harm to victims

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History of Victims

  • Focus of prosecutors and courts was to deter crime through punishment, long sentences and execution

  • Victims lost control of cases in court

  • Not notified or involved with plea bargaining of their cases in court


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Rediscovery of Victims

  • Late 50s and early 60s social movement of three groups responsible for the rediscovery of victims:

    • Law and Order Movement

    • Civil Rights Movement

    • Women’s Rights Movement

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Rediscovery of Victims

  • Law and Order Groups

    • “Get tough on criminals” focused on victims

    • Lock up criminals quickly and longer

    • Fewer loopholes for attorneys

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Rediscovery of Victims

  • Women’s Movement—Became very active in anti-rape and anti-battering campaigns

    • Efforts to break down patriarchal culture tradition to subjugate women

    • 1972—First anti-rape effort with crisis centers in Berkley CA and Washington D.C.

    • 1974—First “Safe House” for battered women established in St. Paul Minnesota

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Rediscovery of Victims

  • Other Social Movements

    • Rights of Children

    • Senior Citizens—Elder Abuse

    • Homosexuals

    • Better training for law enforcement

    • Expansion of “Equal Protection Under Law”

    • Media played major role in reviving victim roles

    • Business sector provided—pepper spray, guns, alarm systems, security services, etc.

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Rediscovery of Victims

  • Politicians enacting legislation named after victims became very popular:

    • Brady Bill

    • Amber Alert

    • Megan’s Law

    • Jenna’s Law

    • Kendra’s Law

      Some of these reforms may prove to be ill-conceived, ineffective and counterproductive

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Rediscovery of Victims

  • The news media played a major role in the rediscovery of victims

    • More attention given to victims rather than offenders in media coverage

    • Highly publicized cases gave victims a forum to be heard

    • Talk show hosts often reflect their unconscious biases

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Rediscovery of Victims

  • Media’s rights to report crimes often conflicts with the victim’s rights for privacy

  • Solutions to this problem include:

    • “Shield laws” to protect from needless and unnecessary disclosure of names and addresses and previous victim involvement

    • Self restraint of reporters and editors

    • Adoption of a “Code of Ethics” requiring reporters to read a victim their “victim rights” prior to any interviews

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Rediscovery of Victims

  • Commercialization of products and services for victims

    • Efforts to engage in fear mongering and false advertising to cash in on customer’s fear of becoming a victim

      • Automobile anti-theft devices (Do they really work?)

      • Home security systems

      • Pepper spray

      • Firearms

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Rediscovery of Victims

  • Victimologists played a major role

  • Process of rediscovery unfolds through a series of steps and stages:

    • Stage 1—Calling Attention to an Overlooked Problem

    • Stage 2—Winning Victories, Implementing Reforms

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Rediscovery of Victims

  • Stage 3—Emergence of an Opposition and Development of Resistance to Further Changes

  • Stage 4—Research and Temporary Resolution of Disputes

  • Process of Rediscovery Continues:

    See Box 2.1 Page 40