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Victim Participation and Therapeutic Jurisprudence

NCJ Number
Victims & Offenders Volume: 3 Issue: 2 & 3 Dated: April 2008 Pages: 165-191
J. Wemmers
Date Published
April 2008
27 pages
This study examined the differences between prosecutors and victim support workers in Quebec, Canada, on their attitudes towards the importance of victim participation in the criminal justice process.
Research with crime victims suggests that victims seek participation and recognition in the justice system (Erez, 1999; Kilchling, 1995; Shapland, Willmore, & Duff, 1985; Wemmers, 1996). However, victim participation in the criminal justice system is a point of debate among scholars (Ashworth, 1993; Erez, 1999). Participation can take various forms: it can mean an active decisionmaking role or merely consultation and consideration (Edwards, 2004; Wemmers & Cyr, 2004). In addition, there is the question of how victims are affected by their participation. While victims in Canada are currently by and large excluded from the criminal justice process, their being outside the system does (to some extent) shelter them from the offender. This raises the question: when is participation helpful or therapeutic for victims and when is it harmful or antitherapeutic? Based on interviews with public prosecutors and victim support workers in the province of Quebec, this study explores the similarities and differences in the perceptions of these two key groups of professionals. Both prosecutors and victim support workers can be considered victims' allies in an adversarial justice system and the study reveals important similarities as well as differences between the two groups with respect to their perceptions of victim participation. (Published Abstract)