Should victims be allowed to participate in the criminal justice process or should the government be the "objective" arbiter of justice?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly, victims are included in the calculus of justice.  On one hand, the prosecution represents the "rights" of the victims.  The voice of those who have been wronged is represented by the prosecution and the forces that it has at its disposal.  At the same time, I think that the use of "victim impact statements" at sentencing helps to allow some audible and acknowledged voice of the victims to those who have been found to do wrong.  From this, I think that one can say that victims are allowed participation in the criminal justice process.  I think that this might be the extent to which victims should participate in justice.  Too great of intervention of the victims into the realm of justice in terms of its adjudication and deliberation transforms the pursuit of justice in terms of vengeance.  While the prosecution acknowledges the experience of the victims, to allow the victims to guide the pursuit of justice creates a realm where vengeance is too close, too great of a reality.  In the conception of justice as an ideal, something which vengeance is not the intended purpose.