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CRM202: Week 11 (March 28) - Victims Policy.docx

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CRM 202
Tammy Landau

CRM202-021: Week 10: Victims Policy (1) th Thursday, March 28 , 2013 1. “Zero Tolerance”/Mandatory Charging for Spousal Abuse - Tensions with Full Implementation of Mandatory Charging - Concerns About Mandatory Charging as a Policy Response to Spousal Violence 2. Violence Against Immigrant and Ethnoracial women - Wachholz and Miedema, 2000 3. Film: Hunting Bobby Oatway Mandatory Charging/Criminalization • the exercise of police discretion is removed: when there are reasonable grounds to believe an assault has taken place, they must lay charges – the standard is the same for all crimes • victims (mostly women) no longer have any input into whether charges will be laid against their partner [many victims of domestic violence do not want charges laid, but the main reason is that the victim is absolved from the charges being laid, to protect the victim] • the Crown would similarly proceed with charges when there is the reasonable prospect of conviction • extraordinary measures are taken to ensure victims appear in court to testify [emergence of victim/witness protection; no formal role for the victim] • significant efforts are made to reduce the attrition of cases throughout the prosecutorial process • in some jurisdiction, the specialized courts are established Landau, T. “Women’s Experiences with Mandatory Charging for Wife Assault in Ontario, Canada:A Case Against the Prosecution.” International Review of Victimology. (Special Issue on Domestic Violence) 7(1,2,3): 141-157, 2000 • more than 70% of women contacted the police themselves, although there were witnesses in over 50% of cases - Women contacted the police because: • they were afraid for their lives • they wanted police to stop the assault • they were concerned about harm to their children • that assault was worse than previous assaults What women wanted the police to do • removed their spouse from the house (30%) • stop the assault (17%) • talk to/warn their spouse (16%) • lay charges (15%) 60% said they wanted police to lay charges • to teach him not to do it again • because it is a crime • because he had done it before 40% did not want charges laid because: • it was not on their minds when they called the police • it was the first time, it was not that serious • it was a personal family matter • Tensions with Full Implementation of Mandatory Charging 1) bureaucratic/professional considerations - ie those that meet the needs of the administration of justice and/or its agents (ie police and crowns) • it puts a wrench in their work - they blame women for making them go through all the work and then not showing up at trial; • police often threatening women that they won’t respond next time unless they support the prosecution; [very disrespectful – it is not their discretion or job] • even though the police and Crowns rely too heavily on women as the basis for their prosecution [rarely take other physical evidence like photographs to strengthen the case, so if the women don’t want to participate/testify, the whole case falls apart+ • prosecution may anger and alienate batterers even more: women who are at greatest risk are women who called the police, the police came and remove the male from the home, and didn’t provide the women with information about social services she could access in the community [actual programs that focus on the victim] • this policy may actually deter some women from calling the police • does not eliminate the exercise of discretion [they decide not to follow through with the policy] 2) structural barriers - ie what the cjs is set up to do, and how it is set up to do it • women are outsiders - the focus is on the accused and getting him through while adhering to principles of justice • she is just a witness for the state *a policy like this further alienates the victim, doesn’t actually help the woman in any way] • women are often also charged, or prosecuted for not attending as witnesses 3) political considerations symbolic dimensions - the most important • mandatory charging gives the appearance of responding to violence against women, but does not get at any of the causal or sustaining factors • What about corporal punishment? • insufficient resources allocated to shelters for women, social assistance, assisted housing, work programs etc • differential treatment of victims holding victims to higher standards than if there were other types of offences involved • all can be achieved within the existing criminal law • spousal violence has its roots in broader social relations and social structures - gender inequality • the policy actually reduces the power of victims • Wachholz, Sandra and Miedema, Baukje. “Risk, fear, harm: Immigrant women’s perceptions of the ‘policing’ solution’ to woman abuse” Crime, Law and Social Change, 34: 301-317, 2000 • based on focus groups with 48 immigrant women living in largely rural New Brunswick • women expressed concerns that “police intervention could actually create or add to the dynamics that are part of abuse relationships - eg. Social isolation, unequal power dynamics, and male control” (p. 308) Social Isolation • fears of greater feelings of loneliness; sustaining loyalty to her husband and the community was one way of avoiding isolation • already experienced high social, cultural and linguistic isolation in a province with few culturally- specific programs or services Unequal Power Dynamics • concerns over interacting with someone (ie the police) who they did not trust and who they feared, but who also had unequal power over them • fears the officer would engage in physical force over the victim or the offender • fear of ridicule or not being believed (a concern shared by non-immigrant women) • fear of encountering racist treatment by the police in Canada Control and Surveillance • fear of contact with immigration authorities who could deport them and their families even though, as landed immigrants, they cannot be deported if her sponsorship is withdrawn as a result of the abuse • fears of engaging child welfare authorities • fear of interference with respect to how to deal with an abusive spouse - mandatory arrest or charging was too inflexible and would do little to end the violence Insecurity and Uncertainty • financial insecurity “De-centring” the policing solution where “greater emphasis would be placed on think
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