Reading 9.doc

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22 Mar 2012
Criminal Justice System
Page 252-278
The Canadian criminal justice system has come some way in its recognition of the
problems experienced by victims of crime, and in its willingness to recognize that it
bears some of the responsibility for responding to problems in an effective and
humane manner
The so-called costs of criminal injuries and the subsequent requirements of victims
of crime, involve a broad range of physical, financial and emotional injuries
There is a general agreement they can be summarized into three general types of
Access to the information and programmes necessary to prevent crime, or at
last reduce the vulnerability of criminal injury
Recovery of the physical, financial and emotional well-being which was
experienced by the victim before the criminal act
Treatment by the criminal justice system which is just and humane, and which
is responsive to the desire of victims to be fully informed and protected
during their experience within the system
Victims are better treated than before, though perhaps not universally or uniformly,
depending on the type of victim you are and the type of crime you have been
subject to
It is often assumed that the movement on behalf of victims has such a sound and
legitimate moral base that progress is simply a question of raising peoples
consciousness about what needs to be done, and applying a little political pressure
to the most responsive points of the state and its criminal justice system
This is naïve
It ignores the real debates over just exactly what victims need, who should provide
for these needs, and who should pay the costs of this response
The objectives of the victims movement have been translated and operationalized
on the basis of traditional or conservative approaches to social organization and the
role of the criminal justice system
Compared to earlier times, victims have won recognition
The real question remains as to who will be responsible for creating, financing and
delivering these new initiatives
It is here that the differences between the traditional and the critical perspectives
are the most evident and the most important
The critical orientation will generally emphasize the collective responsibility for the
consequences of the organization of the social system
Crime is in large part a function of our social and cultural arrangements and thus
the state should be responsible for taking care of the victims created by this
On the other hand, the traditional orientation places the burden of responsibility to
repair the damage done to an innocent victim of a criminal act on the offender who
caused that damage
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