“I feel as if they have ripped out my heart” - victim’s justice?
Under Section 142 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the judiciary are directed to consider a variety of aims when sentencing offenders. One of these is the making of reparation to victims.
This, together with the use of victim impact statements such as this one, a moving statement made by Adele Eastman in the case of the murder of Tom ap Rhys Price, represents a growing trend of allowing victims a say that could possibly affect the outcomes of out criminal justice processes.
Some have argued that victims are not the best-placed people to influence sentencing decisions, with reference to the vitriol aimed at Children’s Commissioner Maggie Atkinson for her recent comments on the age of criminal responsibility. Critics have also derided victim impact statements, suggesting they should be axed and that they represent the senitmentalisation of criminal justice. Others are more supportive.
With pilot schemes afoot to allow victims an even greater say in sentencing, this makes an interesting discussion for students and can be linked to a wider debate about which aims of sentencing should be prioritised - and who is best placed to make such decisions!