Defendants and Victims
Characteristics of Defendants
– Fewer than 7% of prisoners are female.
• Mostly Underclass
• Racial Minorities
– One in three young black males is in trouble
with the law.
Characteristics of Suspects
• Come from broken
• Courts largely have ignored the interests of
victims (and witnesses).
• Victims suffer hardships:
– Trial delays
– Long waits in uncomfortable surroundings
– Lost wages for time spent going to court
– Fear of retaliation from the defendant or his
– Sense that criminal justice personnel are indifferent to
Issue of Prior Relationships
• Relationship between victim and offender can
affect direction of the process.
• About ½ of violent crimes are committed by
someone who is a relative, friend or
• Men are more likely than women to experience
• However, women are about six times more likely
to experience violence committed by an intimate.
Victim Witness Assistance
• Encourage cooperation in the conviction of
criminals by reducing the inconvenience citizens
face when appearing in court.
• Aid in clarifying court process
• Deter intimidation by defendant
• Give Victim or Witness an advocate
• Administer victim indemnification process (to
help recoup losses, or medical, psychological
• Manage Restitution orders
Victim Compensation Programs
• 1984 Victims of Crime Act.
– Established a Crime Victims fund
administered by the Office for Victims of
– Financed primarily from fines paid by
defendants in federal court.
• Many states have followed suit.
Victim’s Bill of Rights
• 1982 President’s Task Force on Victims of
– Submitted 68 separate recommendations aimed at
achieving a balance between the needs and rights of
the victim and those of the defendant.
• 1982 California voters approved Proposition 8
which is known as the Victim’s Bill of Rights.
– Added 12 provisions to the state constitution and the
• National Conference of the Judiciary on the
Rights of Victims of Crime, adopted a Statement
of Recommended Judicial Practices. 8
The Victim’s Rights Movement
• Involves people striking back to turn
tragedy into action and rage into reform.
• Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
• Loose coalition of local, state, and national
organizations with wide-ranging interests.
Payne v. Tennessee
• The Eighth Amendment does not prohibit
the sentencing jury in a capital case from
considering the victim impact statements
relating to the victim’s personal
characteristics and the emotional impact of
the murder on the victim’s family.