Survey finds crime victims want more say in convictions

By Marcus Henderson

In the past 10 years, one in four people in the U.S. has been a victim of a crime. A recent survey found crime victims wished for prosecutors to consider their opinion about what it takes to recover from the criminal acts committed against them, even if it resulted in fewer convictions.

According to Crime Survivors Speak Report, such survivors also preferred that more resources be allocated toward problems in the neighborhood and more invested in rehabilitative programs to prevent repeat crimes.

Instead of building more prisons and jails, a national survey found that six in 10 victims prefer shorter prison sentences for perpetrators of crime and more spending for crime prevention.

  • 15 to one survivors asked for more investments in schools and education
  • 10 to one survivors wanted more job creation
  • 7 to one survivors wanted increased funding in mental health care

A majority of crime survivors support the reforms, even for the most serious crimes such as rape or murder of a family member.

Most survivors suffered from at least one symptom of trauma such as stress, fear, anxiety, or difficulty sleeping. Nevertheless, two out of three did not receive assistance from the justice system following the incident. Those who did receive assistance were far more likely to receive it from family or friends.

Two in 10 victims were injured or experienced medical problems from the incident.

Survivor Aswad of California was robbed and shot twice in the back during a convenience store robbery.

“Those bullets ended my basketball career,” Aswad said. “I didn’t know what I needed to heal from the trauma: how to access the physical and emotional support necessary to fully recover. It was overwhelming just to pay medical bills, handle inquiries from law enforcement and return to work.

“…too little is invested in helping victims or our hardest hit communities”

“There’s no shortage of resources; it’s that too little is invested in helping victims or our hardest hit communities. I’m committed to changing that,” Aswad added. He was injured in 2009.

Crime survivors who were victimized multiple times, as opposed to those who were victimized once, have an increased likelihood of developing mental health problems. These include higher levels of depression, anxiety and symptoms related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to nationally available data shown in the survey.

The National Survey of Victims’ Views (NSVV) identifies the victims and what they say they need to recover from the crimes committed against them.

Survivors said in the survey that too many people are sent to prison, for too long, and that our current incarceration policies make people more — not less — likely to commit another crime.

The NSVV contacted a representative sample of 3,165 people nationwide and, from that pool, identified and interviewed more than 800 victims in both English and Spanish during a 10-year reference period. The poll was administered by telephone — both landlines and mobile phones –as well as online. The findings were published in August 2016.

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