Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

Abstract

During the last three decades, crime victims have increasingly been recognized by the criminal justice system as more than just witnesses for the prosecution. For example, in all 50 states crime victims are afforded specific statutory rights ranging from being treated with dignity and respect to having the opportunity to participate in the justice process, the latter most commonly seen during the sentencing phase where victims address the court and their offenders and describes how the crime has impacted their lives. Additionally, an increase in the number and type of programs based on the philosophy of restorative justice in recent years has given crime victims additional opportunities to participate in the justice process. Restorative justice programming allows crime victims to engage in direct dialogue with their offender, either as an alternative to traditional justice processing or, in some cases, as a post-trial process. Finally, arguably the clearest signal of the recognition of crime victims as individuals in need and not just witnesses to a crime is the more than $4 billion that the federal government has distributed in grant funds for crime victim compensation and crime victim assistance programs since 1986. These grant funds have contributed to a dramatic increase in justice system-based victim assistance programs that provide referrals and direct services in an attempt to meet victims' needs. Yet, even with the expansion of justice system policies and programs that have increased victim involvement with the criminal justice system, our understanding of what leads them to have satisfactory experiences with the justice system is extremely limited. Using both quantitative and qualitative data obtained from a sample of felony crime victims whose offenders were charged and tried by a large Midwestern county's prosecutor's office, this dissertation seeks to better understand the factors that are related to, and predictive of, crime victims' satisfaction with the outcomes of their cases and embarks on an exploration into the concept of justice from the crime victims' perspective.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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