April 19-25 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW), and Justice Fellowship, the public policy arm of Prison Fellowship, is examining the six values in its restorative justice framework that pertain to victims of crime.
Today, we highlight the restorative justice value of protection.
It’s kind of obvious: After suffering property damages, physical injuries, and emotional scars—not to mention subsequent financial struggles or lack of options to move forward in the way they choose, victims should not be re-victimized.
Our criminal justice system should provide safeguards against intimidation and harassment of victims, as well as protection of their personal information. And our communities should also play a supporting role in securing such protections.
These protections accomplish two extremely important things for the cause of justice.
One, they help victims pursue their path forward. The battle to deal with the often serious harm sustained by a criminal act can be overwhelming. Any perceived threat or additional harm to victims following the initial criminal act is a further setback. We should do our best to ensure the opposite—that we are positioning victims to move forward unencumbered by their past.
Two, protection of victims’ personal information and prevention of further intimidation and harassment enables them to effectively participate in the criminal justice process, something that is vital to restorative justice. See yesterday’s blog for more on that. Many victims grapple with fear in coming forward to report their crimes, so those responsible escape justice. This is something we should not accept either.
As much as possible, we must pursue a safe environment for victims. Implementing the values of our restorative justice framework will place harmed parties in right standing in the criminal justice process and will aid their protection.