Sunday, August 07, 2016

Survey: What do crime victims want?

A new survey of crime victims published by the Alliance for Safety and Justice included findings that run counter to purported victims-rights positions of the past (which in turn, one realizes in retrospect, have been more frequently articulated by cops and prosecutors than actual victims themselves). For example, reported the Washington Post:
In the survey, 52 percent of victims said that prison makes people more likely to commit crimes again. Only 19 percent said that prison helps rehabilitate people into better citizens. This skepticism of prisons is in line with most social science research, which has generally shown that mass incarceration causes more crime than it prevents, that institutionalizing young offenders makes them more likely to commit crime as adults, and that spending time in prison teaches people how to be better criminals.
According to the survey, one in four people have been victims of crime in the last ten years, with half of those having been victim of violent crime. Crime victims are more likely to be young, poor, and minorities, and once victimized, a person is four times as likely to be victimized again. 

Further, "Six in 10 victims prefer shorter prison sentences and more spending on prevention and rehabilitation to prison sentences that keep people in prison for as long as possible." Notably, "For every victim who prefers the criminal justice system focus on punishment there are two victims who prefer it focus on rehabilitation."

Grits wanted to flag this work for future reference. It contains lots of useful corrections to common misrepresentations by the tuff-on-crime crowd about what's best for victims, their views on punishment, and what they need to be made whole.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

One stop at the webpage for the "Alliance for Safety and Justice" tells me pretty much all I need to know about the objectivity and credibility of this "survey." One would almost be tempted to laugh at loud at this if it wasn't reasonably assured that this horse shit will somehow find its way into policy discussions at the Texas Legislature next spring.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Spoken like someone who prefers to define victims rights for their own benefit instead of listening to what victims want.

ASJ's website looks pretty straightforward and unremarkable to me - it mostly promotes this report. If you think the data's wrong, feel free to point to other surveys of victims that you think more accurately depict their views.

DLW said...

I think the 4:25 pm comment sounds like an ADA who wants to say 'I have to follow the wishes of the victim' when the victim insists on something unreasonably harsh but on the other hand says 'it isn't up to the victim' when the victim doesn't want a harsh punishment.

Anonymous said...

In my own experience dealing with victims, there are 2 types: those who have a personal relationship with the offender, and those who were victimized by a stranger. From testimony I have heard in open court, victim allocution statements read aloud in court, and in victim impact statements submitted to probation and prosecutors' offices, victims who know the offender tend to side with rehab and probation. The others want prison for the offender (in general, there are exceptions). Surveys on emotional topics like this can be a bit skewed (like giving a written sex survey to teenagers).

SEMPER FINE said...

How about seeking statements from the Texas chapters of Parents of Murdered Children or People Against Violent Crime, instead of a group of California activists? The above groups have a much greater familiarity with relevant as opposed to esoteric victims issues.

Anonymous said...

A large percentage of domestic violence victims don't want their offenders prosecuted at all. But that doesn't mean it's a good idea.

Anonymous said...

As a victim advocate myself, I read the report with interest. Although my views are not scientific, I do believe that when given options, crime victims are often more open than we might think to less punitive, less adversarial options. Unfortunately there are many challenges to making those options available throughout the process. As noted above, you may have a souped up ADA, or you may have a victim advocate who still believes that throwing the offender under the jail equates to victim healing (full disclosure: I used to be one of those advocates), or options are presented in a zero-sum format, i.e., "do you want us to offer 15 years or go for 20?" That more than half of even violent crime victims do not report the crime to the police tells us that there's a strong perception that as a victim of crime your needs are not going to be met by the existing system. I'm not advocating for an all out overthrow of the criminal justice system, there are some things it does really well, but as measured by victim healing and meaningful offender change, it has a long way to go.

Anonymous said...

Restitution is what crime victims want!

mike connelly said...

As a crime victim, including the OKC bombing, I have been impressed with the consistent findings that crime victims as a whole, as compared to the vocal vengeful ones represented by those most prevalent in policy conferences, do not differ much from the general public. During the 1990s attempt at sentencing reform in OK, a poll at the time found that, despite the vociferous testimony of victims' representatives [sic] during the policy making, the general public, divided into victims and non-victims, were not statistically significant in their more lenient policy preferences. Moreover, my work in MD with victims' reps in DA offices and as a member of a state victims' organization board convinced me that the prosecutors were only interested in victims to the extent that the victims' vengeance matched the DAs' zeal in convictions. Victims are not a solidary community but separated by mercy, justice, and vengeance just as the general public is. Those who listen to vocal victims' representatives or the politicians who claim to speak for them as the sole voice of victims are spewing word vomit, as the comments above demonstrate.

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Anonymous said...

The criminals have an attitude when they go in and keep that attitude while they're locked up cooling their heels. They got their attitude early in life and everything in the hood and the pen reinforces that attitude.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of those surveys about Congress, where 90% disapprove of the body as a whole but 90% approve of their individual representative. In theory, rehab is a great idea. In practice, when you are talking about the individual who committed a crime against you, people are much less forgiving.