Crime Victims’ Rights Act and How they have Progressed over the Years

Introduction

For a very long time, crime victims have been neglected by not being considered in the legal process whereby offenders are prosecuted and sentenced. This was because their rights had not be considered as part of the constitution. After some time, there was an introduction of a list of rights expected to be offered for crime victims, but the issue is that there was no legal grounds to act as punishment in case these were violated. Today, the case is completely different, as victims have rights which are enacted in the constitution, and have a legal route to follow in case of violation. This paper features the crime victims’ rights act and how they have progressed over the past few years.

The Significant Manner In Which The Crime Victims Rights Act Protects The Rights Of Crime Victims

Approximately 30 years back, crime victims had few legal rights within the criminal justice system. Victims had no right to be updated on the court proceedings, nor were they even offered victim assistance programs. Fortunately, tremendous changes have taken place as there has been a creation of legal rights and assistance programs for crime victims (Cassell, Mitchell & Edwards, 2014). Today, all states have established an extensive body that promotes the basic rights and protections for crime victims within the statutory code. The Crime Victims’ Rights Act protects the right of victims by influencing how they are treated within the state, federal and local criminal justice systems. By including the crime victims’ rights in the state constitution, the strength,  permanence and enforceability of rights of victims are increased (Cassell, 2005). The crime victims’ rights act is strong, because no law can violate a provision of the U.S constitution. These rights protect crime victims by ensuring that no matter the court being used, the constitution will still ensure their rights are enforced.

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This piece of legislation is effective as crime victims of today are protected and supported. Only a few states offered recourse for victims whose rights are not honored. This is inclusive of states that had adopted the constitutional amendments. There was usually no clear civil action to take when a victim suffers from damages resulting from a violation of rights. In most cases, when a crime victim’s right is violated, there was no grounds for new trials or even an overturning of a sentence (Musgrove & Groves, 2007). Enforceability was further restricted as the bill of rights does not create a cause of action against the state.

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These factors changed, however, when the Crime Victims’ Rights Act was passed. The rights of victims have been enlisted to show exactly what they are entitled to. To make even better, this act gives victims a legal standing in case they are violated (Cassell, Mitchell & Edwards, 2014). A mechanism of receiving complaints and investigating the reports are in place.

Victim Impact Statements Add Value During Sentencing And Parole Hearings

Victim impact statements are indeed an important part of the criminal justice system as they offer crime victims a chance to be heard. It is basically a description provided by the victim of how the crime has affected his life, as well as those of his loved ones (Musgrove & Groves, 2007). It also features a suggestion on what the victim thinks will be the best punishment for the offender. It is not compulsory to fill out this statement. However once the judiciary have a view of how the crime affected the victim’s life, they are better placed to choose the best mode of punishment (Cassell, 2005). For instance, a person who is a victim of rape can fill out the statement arguing that she also suffered financial losses due to not being in good health to go to work for a month or two. If this person chooses not to fill out the form, the offender may only be punished for the act as the judiciary will not have a clear picture of other effects of the crime.

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Which Is More Important To A Victim: The Right To Be Notified Of Proceeding Or The Right To Participate In A Proceeding

The right to be notified of proceeding is not as important to a victim as the right to participate in a proceeding. The latter is usually the most important as victims feel like they are actively engaged in the criminal proceedings. This option helps victims to listen to counsel’s arguments and view the kind of reactions offered by the judge, jury, and defendant (Cassell, 2005). Being informed of a proceeding only involves being told the dates and results or conclusions that the jury reached. The victim is otherwise not included in the process. For most of the victims, it is preferable to play a part in the criminal proceedings rather than be in the back seat and only get information from a third party.

How to Ensure that Correctional Employees adhere to the ACA Code of Ethics

The ACA code of ethics is supposed to promote the human rights of all individuals. Criminals are also human beings, and thus should still be treated like so (Musgrove & Groves, 2007). To ensure that their mistakes are not used against them, and that they are not mistreated while in the correctional facility, the first strategy should be to implement a reporting system (Cassell, Mitchell & Edwards, 2014). This should involve a body that the offenders can trust enough to go to when something wrong happens to them. With such a system in place, the correctional employees will know that they are being monitored, and can thus be punished for denying the inmates their human rights.

Second, the facility should make use of a training system under which the employees are taught and educated that these people need help, and not mistreatment (Cassell, 2005). Most prisoners have factors in their backgrounds that led them astray. During their stay in the facility, the employees should understand that it is their role to help them get back on track.

Conclusion

There are many reasons why it is important for the victim to have a voice in a legal process. First, it helps them to share how the attackers actions have influenced life negatively for them. It paints a clear picture, from the first hand experience of the victim, and not simply the prosecutor. In most cases, the prosecutors usually end up misinterpreting a victim’s situation, just as lawyers can use altered stories to win a case. If the victim is given a voice, it will not be for other reasons, but for his own benefit. Second, giving the victim a voice offers a chance of starting the healing process. This is because the victim is given a chance of sharing the experience with others, including the judge and jury. These people can then use the victim’s emotions to help gauge the right step to take in his or her favor. Therefore, it offers an opportunity for the victim to give a firsthand account of his or her experience. Third, by being given a voice, the victim is allowed to share what he or she thinks will be the best mode of punishment.

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