Consider the effects of the grueling criminal justice process upon the victim of a crime. Why is it important for victim services providers to understand the criminal justice system?
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Organizations devoted to assisting the victims of crime came into existence because of the perceived need for victims to have emotional and legal support to help them withstand the psychological rigors of a criminal trial. A prosecutor is focused on amassing physical evidence implicating a suspect; the defense attorney is dedicated to the acquittal of his or her client, usually at the expense of the fragile psyche of the victim. That leaves the victim, often alone, physically and/or emotionally scarred, and lacking in someone to help him or her navigate the criminal justice system. Such victims' advocates, as they are known, must understand that system in order to be help to the victim.
A criminal investigation and subsequent trial -- and there is no guarantee that there will be a trial if the prosecutor does not feel confident that he or she has a strong enough case to convict -- can be an emotionally wrenching experience, in which the victim, especially in a rape case, feels victimized by "the system" almost as much as she was victimized by the perpetrator. The victim's advocate can better assist the victim by emotionally supporting the victim throughout the entirety of the process, especially when it comes time for the victim to testify against the defendant. By providing a knowledgable supportive hand, the advocate can help the victim understand the process and ensure that the victim will not be alone.
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