commenting on two classmates discussion on Ethical Obligations to Victims
Then, respond to the posts of at least two peers and state why you agree or disagree with their assessment. You may use outside resources to support your opinion.
Classmate # 1 Eric
When looking at a victim of a criminal act, it is natural to want the person restored to a pre-crime stance. Restorative justice feels good on the surface. Who could oppose giving victims the same rights as the accused? Keeping the victim apprised of court, parole, and release dates sounds fair. Allowing victims a voice in sentencing also seems fair. In 2018, Georgia voted in support of Marsey’s law. This State Constitutional amendment passed with over 80% support. And yet debate remains as to whether this approach best serves the public (Reporter Newspapers, 2018).
Ethically, providing victims with rights has a moral correctness. Practically, the new law exposes local government to increased liability, and additional work load. By making victim rights a constitutional mandate, it is easy to foresee litigation over a missed notification. And allowing victims a voice in court may serve to further clog an already over burdened court docket. An unexpected issue that has already surfaced is law enforcement using this law to shield the identity of members involved in a shooting by claiming “victim “ status. As a 29 year veteran LEO, that made me chuckle, but I see how the lack of transparency will erode public confidence. As we attempt to seek criminal justice reform, we are further complicating a failed system. We have attempted to shift the narrative away from retribution/deterrence/tough on crime to a rehabilitative model. Restorative justice is sold as being rehabilitative in academic circles. In reality, it places financial burdens on a convict they cannot meet. This typically results in re-incarceration. Communities routinely spend $75 per day housing these individuals for 3-8 months over a theft of less than $500. I would argue this creates a new victim, the tax payer. The courts are not an insurance company to restore financial losses to a victim. That is the role of private purchased insurance. I would argue these amendments are a mistake. Having a victim speaking in a case should be left up to the prosecutor. Far too often, the victim will only muddy the water in a clear case. Their speaking may do more damage than good.
Unless there is a creation of a “special relationship”, law enforcement do not have a duty to protect an individual (HG Legal Resources, ND). The world is a mean place, and bad things happen. While there is certainly an ethical responsibility for law enforcement to treat victims respectfully, creations of a special relationship should be avoided. This is why victims are never promised they will be safe. Nor should a victim be given false hope that stolen property will be recovered. Ethically, law enforcement should respond in a timely manner, properly investigate violations of the penal code, present evidence to the courts that led to the probable cause that a subject violated the law, and make reasonable attempts to protect recovered property.
Classmate # 2 Jacob
As a Law Enforcement officer one has a ethical duty to treat victims of crime with respect and dignity. Victims voices should be heard and weighted equally when securing the scene. Steps should be taken to further protect the victim and help remove them from a harmful situation. If the victim is seeking additional help it’s our ethical duty to provide a list of resources such as Domestic Violence Prevent and Treatment,Family Violence Prevention Services Act, Sexual Assault Services Project and several more.(in.gov).
According to Indiana Code, victims of crime are afforded the following legal rights. ”Victims of crime, as defined by law, shall have the right to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect throughout the criminal justice process; and, as defined by law, to be informed of and present during public hearings and to confer with the prosecution, to the extent that exercising these rights does not infringe upon the constitutional rights of the accused”(Enforcing) It also states that victims have the right to be heard in the sentencing process. Anytime someone is incarcerated or placed in a metal health facility victims have the right to be notified.
I think we do a good job at providing resources to victims. Currently the need for a victims rights amendment is not needed. Both state and federal money are set aside to develop programs and assist victims of crime. Victims of crimes are at risk of psychological problems that these programs if used correctly can help prevent. (McCart 2010).The state of Indiana has what’s called the Victims Service Division who provide a list of programs for help.(in.gov) It is my belief that we need to focus some time on informing first responders of the programs and push them to provide information to the victims. We need positively promote the programs and create ways to lead victims into these programs in order to encourage them and help them take the first step to live a happy life.
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