Rethinking Crime - Newsletter 107, Sept 2012
Newsletter 107, September 2012
In this Issue:
Rethinking focuses on one issue – managing emotion in the Courtroom.
When President of the NZ Law Society, Jonathan Temm spoke out recently the way TV camera are used to increase the level of emotion in the courtroom, he struck a common accord with Rethinking Crime and Punishment, who in its recent oral submission on the Victims of Crime Reform Bill, described it as the “Oprahfication” of justice.
The point in a Court hearing at which the level of emotion is likely to reach a peak, is when the victim reads out the victim impact statement (VIS). In this edition, Associate Professor Christopher Marshall, Victoria University, and Tony Paine, CEO for Victim Support comment on an article by Sandra Walklate, who raises questions about the way politicians and policymakers have increasingly evoked, often in highly emotive terms, the impact of crime or court procedures on victims as justification for radically new directions in justice policy
Rethinking then goes on to consider what steps might be taken to reduce the level of emotion generally, and more specifically at the critical point when the victim’s statement is read out in the Court. The challenge is to provide the opportunity and space for victims to participate in the court process, without allowing the trial to degenerate into theatre. We propose a different approach , which we have called a Victim Offender Encounter, (VOE) which would satisfy the needs of the victim, without raising expectations that the reading of a victim impact statement would have some immediate effect on the sentence. It would also allow the victim to explain to the offender the harm that has been caused, without that process deteriorating into a public exercise in retribution.
In Rethinking’s view, it is not sufficient to focus only on how to better manage emotion in the courtroom. A far better goal would be to introduce processes which enhance the healing potential for victims, and at the same times, preserves the basic rights of defendants.