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National Confernce of the Judiciary on the Rights of Victims of Crime - Court Innovations

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This videotaped address by James Stewart, the Director of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), reviews NIJ-sponsored research pertaining to victim involvement in criminal case processing in the areas of plea bargaining, sentencing, and parole.
Judicial and victim attitudes toward increased victim participation in case processing are contrasted, and judges are given suggestions for improving such victim involvement. NIJ research indicates that citizens and particularly, victims, are highly responsive to judicial actions and attitudes in forming their perceptions of the effectiveness of the courts in doing justice. Research also indicates that about two-thirds of crime victims are dissatisfied with the court system. A particular complaint is the failure of the system to include victims in case processing or even to inform them about case outcomes. Research on judicial attitudes, on the other hand, indicates that most judges believe that victim participation in case processing is sufficient. Experimental programs of victim involvement in plea bargaining, sentencing, and parole decisionmaking indicate that such participation is not generally disruptive or vengeful and significantly increases victim perceptions that justice is being done. Judges can be instrumental in developing procedures and training programs that will encourage criminal justice practitioners to solicit victim cooperation and participation in case processing.


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