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National Conference of the Judiciary on the Rights of Victims of Crime - Judges' Victims' Rights Experience

NCJ Number
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A videotaped address by a Wisconsin judge and one by a California judge deal with a Wisconsin victim-offender restitution program and other victim-witness programs in the same jurisdiction. Also emphasized is the importance of judges' being aware of victims' psychological states, particulary as they are manifested in trial proceedings.
A Wisconsin victim-offender restitution program is believed to benefit not only the victims by providing for offenders' reimbursement for financial losses, but to aid offenders' rehabilitation by confronting them with the effects of their crimes on the victims. The program's effectiveness is indicated by a lack of recidivism among offender participants and general victim satisfaction. The program excludes habitual property offenders and violent offenders. Other victim assistance programs in Wisconsin include victim compensation, victim participation in plea bargaining discussions, and victim impact statements as input for the sentencing decision. In discussing the importance of judges' being aware of the psychological dynamics of victimization, a California judge notes that neither law school training nor the adversarial posturing of the prosecution and defense in case processing prepare criminal justice practitioners to assist victims-witnesses in their emotional traumas and ensure that their treatment by the criminal justice system does not aggravate these traumas. Suggestions are offered for dealing with child and adolescent victims-witnesses, particularly those who have been sexually abused.