This story is infuriating on several levels. I have commented previously about the Victim Impact Statements that were introduced a few years ago. They were introduced, as I see it, to give a bogus impression that the criminal justice system is all about victims, despite the fact that the court may not adjust its sentence in response to the Statement. It is a cruel and patronising fraud on the victims and their families. This is what I thought about it nine years ago, and my view has not changed.
The poor judge is being pilloried for stating a truth that is obvious to anyone in the system.
I suppose it is news because the Silly Season is well under way, and all the grown-up journalists are away in sunny places.
Helen Rumbelow writes in Wednedsday's (paywalled) Times to make much the ssme points.
Musings and Snippets from a recently retired JP. I served for 31 years, mostly in west London. I was Chairman of my Bench for some years, and a member of the National Bench Chairmen's Forum All cases are based on real ones, but anonymised and composited. All opinions are those of one or more individuals. JPs swear to enforce the law of the land, whether or not they approve of it. Nothing on here constitutes legal advice.
Tuesday, August 05, 2014
Another Judge Gets It In The Neck
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Quite right. Well said - you and the Judge. Load of misleading claptrap.ReplyDelete
Interesting to read today's Gov press release on this. Careful reading suggests that indeed the VS can have little or no influence on the Board.ReplyDelete
Pity the poor soul who had to write it.
Of course the judge is correct. A justice system where the fate of the criminal is determined not by his actions, and by how far he has managed to rehabilitate himself, but by whether or not the relatives of the victim still feel bitter would be no justice system at all.ReplyDelete
Even in terms of initial sentencing, a victim statement should have little impact. If you murder Norman No-Mates, you commit exactly the same crime as if you murder his neighbour - a dearly beloved father, pillar of the community and so on.
He has of course committed the one unpardonable sin - he's told an unpalatable truth (remember Andrew Gilligan a few years ago).ReplyDelete
By the way, we don't have impact statements, they are Victim Personal Statements.
Victim Personal Statements, Victim Surcharge.ReplyDelete
Like so many others, I have realised that the words 'victim' and 'justice' are worlds apart.
Victim personal statements are a waste of court time. They are used by victims to release their venom and hate against the offender. While victims deserve sympathy, to allow them also to release hatred in the court and try to influence the sentence handed down is unwise. Also victims bring their own emotional feelings and bias of the events in what they say in court. It would be better if the criminal justice system allowed victims free access to professional help of a psychologist to allow them to gain emotional release of their feelings about the offender and the event they were affected by.ReplyDelete