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Bridging the Gap Between Prosecutors' Cases and Victims' Biographies in the Criminal Justice System Through Shared Emotions

NCJ Number
Law & Social Inquiry Volume: 38 Issue: 2 Dated: Spring 2013 Pages: 257-287
Date Published
31 pages
This study examined the victim-prosecutor relationship, with a focus on people who have lost a loved one to murder.

Previous research on victims' encounters with prosecutors suggests that victims' rights have had a limited effect on victims' satisfaction with the criminal justice system. . The findings of the current study indicate that shared emotions (e.g., sadness, anger) represent a key mechanism for (1) connecting victims to prosecutors (and individuals to organizations) and (2) improving victims' experiences with the criminal justice system. Although victims' rights do not guarantee the opportunity for shared emotions, prosecutors often honored victims' desire for a close relationship and considered their input on case decisions. The emotional tone dimension of Carol Heimer's case versus biography analysis proves helpful for explaining the gaps between prosecutors' responsibilities and victims' expectations. The data come from in-depth interviews with thirty-five participants, including twenty victims, three crime victims' advocates, and twelve criminal court professionals in Union County (pseudonym). (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2013