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Crime Victims, Victim Surveys and Victimology

NCJ Number
G Geis
Date Published
32 pages
A review of the growth of concern and services for crime victims and of the use of crime surveys emphasizes the experience of the United States and other countries and highlights the recent establishment of a crime victim survey in Portugal.
Concern about crime's impacts on victims and efforts to relieve some of those impacts have arisen only in recent decades, in part because of political pressures. In the United States, the victims' movement arose from the 1964 presidential campaign. Efforts to help victims reflect the emotional component of the victim movement, while crime victim surveys represent the scientific component. These surveys are useful both for determining public attitudes and for planning. These surveys are considered to be better measures than police and judicial statistics. They are limited by measurement problems resulting from underreporting and inaccurate memories, but, unlike the errors in other statistics, these errors are likely to remain constant. Victim compensation originated in Great Britain and has taken narrower forms in the United States and Australia. Portugal will complete its first victim survey early next year, using visits to 10,000 households in the Lisbon area. Supplementing victim programs in some communities are good samaritan programs that aid people harmed in trying to help victims and the Bad Samaritan law in Portugal that penalizes people who fail to help people being victimized. Further aid is also offered through victim services like counseling and practical assistance during the criminal justice process. The most controversial part of the victim movement is the victim's rights movement, which has sometimes gone beyond its focus on victims to an attack on defendant's rights. Endnote and 32 references.


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