Media release Monday November 19, 2018
“Secret Victim Impact Statements (VIS) as proposed in the law before Parliament this week would deny the victim and mentally ill offender involvement in restorative justice. It is a misunderstanding of the process and must not pass. The victims’ groups agree with us” said Justice Action Coordinator Brett Collins.
“Passing the Bill would mean that the victim does not engage with the offender to express their pain, achieve an understanding of why the event occurred, and reach a possible reconciliation. There is no similar provision in the criminal law as secrecy negates the intention of the VIS” said Mr Collins.
“Research resoundingly supports the benefits to victims of the restorative justice process. The VIS provides a chance for the offender to be confronted with the effect of the offence, and to acknowledge it. Processes like circle sentencing and youth conferencing are based upon this principle. Restorative justice builds community through forgiveness. There must be a chance for the forensic patient to ask for forgiveness and have a chance at reconciliation. See research paper said Mr Collins.
“The idea that mentally ill offenders have less rights than those who consciously offended, is a misunderstanding of the basic principles of discrimination law and fairness. It relegates such offenders to having less standing in a court, and infringes on a basic procedural right of our legal system. Misstatements could be made, misunderstood and never confronted. Often families include both victim and offender, who are all part of this pain” said Mr Collins.
“In reality, the government continues to mistreat victims. Compensation was reduced from $50,000 to $15,000 in 2013 despite calls for its return. This legislation is bullying disabled people in an attempt to satisfy the pain of the victim, whipped up by media interest. It’s a misguided King Hit, with the system blindfolding the offender and assuming some satisfaction to the victim in the process. It must not be passed in this form” said Mr Collins.