There have been debates pertaining to the importance of victim statements and their impact they may have on the sentencing of offenders. Researchers have suggested that the sentencing outcomes could be more proportionate if testimony from victims provides accurate information about the impact of the crime. However, critics have argued that victim impact statements can create unrealistic expectations for sentences. For instance, a judge may impose a sentence that is against what the victim expressed. This could make the victim feel resentful and that submitting a statement was in vain (Davis Lurigio, & Herman, 2013, p.256).
I believe that victim statements should be allowed into the courtroom prior to sentencing for several reasons. First, allowing victims to participate during the sentencing process can promote psychological healing by helping victims recover from emotional distress associated with their victimization and court experiences (Davis et al., 2013, p.256). Second, victims may feel like they are performing a civic duty by describing their feelings, concerns, or views of the crime to the community at large, and/or to authorities who were negligent in preventing and protecting the victimization (Davis et al., 2013, p.259). Third, researchers state “victims commonly do not consider their input, sentencing outcomes, or even the capital penalty imposed on an offender as leading to ‘closure,’ but rather describe participation in justice as allowing three interrelated benefits: empowerment, validation, and ‘moving on” (Davis et al., 2013, p.259).
Davis, R. C., Lurigio, A. J., & Herman, S. (Eds.). (2013). Victims of crime. (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
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