Concept and understanding of victims of crime

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Comprising of rational choice theory and routine theory, administrative criminology has an opportunistic standpoint on crime (situational crime prevention), and as a result victims are barely put into consideration any more than a view on the precipitative nature of the victim. Precipitative nature refers to the actions / behaviours of the victim that could be considered towards the triggering of the offender (Muncie 2004).

Early (Mendelsohn and Von Hentig) and positivist victimology:

Focusing on environmental and genetic factors, positivist victimology views the cause of crime is primarily linked to the external factors acting unnoticed upon the offender (Dignan 2004). Mendelsohn and Von Hentig as early positivist victimologist were focused on the precipitative nature of the victim as the cause for being victimised. Studying cases and instances of crime Mendelsohn and Von Hentig attempted to view patterns in criminal activities resulting in a system of victim labelling for how culpable and victim prone (Dignan 2004) people were in their victimisation.

Radical feminism:

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Focused on the widespread patriarchal social system in both private and public spheres, Radical feminism focuses on addressing women as the disadvantaged victims in predominantly male ruled society (Wolhuter, Olley & Denham 2009). Radical feminism seeks to balance outdated preconceived perceptions of gender roles which oppress women victims. Once it was considered in sexual matters, rape, that women wanted what men wanted from women (Wolhuter, Olley & Denham 2009) and it is from past patriarchal stances that radical feminism acts to empower women victims. The term victim itself is promotes an images of a weak and helpless person, the term survivor is now the preferred term from feminist perspective giving a stronger and empowering position to victims (Cook & Jones 2007).

Radical victimology:

Concern with the role of the state alongside the law in producing victimisation

Linked with questions concerned with human rights

Radical victimology is connected Amnesty International

"Criminal victimisation is but one aspect of social victimization arising from poverty and disadvantage - in which people are harmed by normal social and economic relations, a process which in turn results in their harming each other" (Phipps 1988:181)

(Rachel)

Radical victimiology emphasises society's role in criminality, and that of the state and legal system. The victim is denoted as those oppressed by 'the powerful' and whom, act on behave of the state. This view tends towards the offender as the primary victim of state tyranny, and is ignorant to the victimisation of the oppressed offenders.

Cultural victimology:

Taking on a anthropological approach, focused on the how the victim is constructed, cultural victimology studies victims primarily by the means of geographically, experientially, the institutionalised labels and representation in the media (Gabe 2007). This approach allows an understanding of how victims come to be seen as and given a victim status by society and themselves (Gabe 2007).

Critical criminology:

Furthering perspectives of Marxist and feminist theories, critical criminology focuses on revealing and addressing power structures within society that in themselves have inherent oppressive natures (White & Perrone 2010). Marxist theory presented the bourgeois the upper middle class, owners of production, and their rule over the working class, establishing a political and economical struggle. The working class are victimised by societal structures and the bourgeois are victims being the product of society. Contemporary society sees these societal structures in the criminal justice system, agreed to be an unfair system favouring certain groups or classes, Marxist perspective, over others(White & Perrone 2010).

QUESTION 9

What is the future of crime prevention strategies in the 21st century? What strategies are emerging in contemporary Australia and in the international context? How effective they will be in preventing crime?

In the past crime prevention came from more of a deterrence stance, as the focus was on the actual event of a crime and intent of the offender and severe punishments for petty widespread crimes were seen to act as deterrence. The 21st century is taking on an actuarial criminology approach, of sorts a risk management approach(George 1999). Focusing on restricting opportunities for crime, minimising the risks and curbing antisocial behaviours the future of crime prevention has accepted the inevitability of human criminality, no longer attempting to stop crime but manage crime(George 1999).

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Environmental or social prevention strategies utilise both situational implementation with quick initial results and long term social programs producing viable results within each passing decade (Sutton, Cherney & White 2008). Social prevention strategies are being constantly integrated into disadvantaged areas, analysing specific and predominant crimes that occur in the area a restructuring of the environment is made to minimise the risks and occurrences of the crime. An example of such could be a walking bridge across a road with no lighting, at night people are being assaulted when they cross, making this bridge well lit and visible to surrounding areas would be a method of minimising risks as research would suggest original reason for prevalence criminal behaviours at such a location are directly linked to poor lighting, unseen activities (White & Perrone 2010). Implementing developmental crime prevention by using strategies that target education towards the social development of youths and the of promotion of positive behaviours and communication, with the primary goal of reducing anti-social behaviours in later years, especially in high risk low socioeconomic areas (Sutton, Cherney & White 2008). This effectively implemented has great promise in reducing, in later years, engagement in criminal actions (Siegel 2009).

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QUESTION 6

Are primary, secondary and tertiary crime prevention strategies successful in addressing non-traditional crimes (such as state and corporate crimes)? Elaborate using examples and relevant literature.

Primary prevention concentrates on the state and happenings within a targeted environment that may be the reason behind the prevalence of certain crimes. When dealing with non-traditional crimes such strategies of educating youths, targeting youths during childhood development can be an extremely effective time to set in place principals of right and wrong (Gargus 2010). Effectively done this can be used to curb antisocial behaviours (Siegel 2009). In targeting people before they commit a crime or before they become at risk of committing crimes, Primary prevention seeks to act as reduction measures towards future crime.

Secondary crime prevention concentrates on the people in areas or situations that contain the potential for criminal actions, people that are considered high risk to offend. Secondary crime prevention acts through the identification of criminal activity and the prediction of criminal activity (Homel 2005). Through the identification of potential situations that are at-risk from opportunistic criminals it becomes to, within reason, possible to predict criminal occurrences (Homel 2005). By cutting down the potential opportunities to commit a crime, raising the penalties and thus minimising the potential to profit off of actions, it is more likely that any high-risk individual will not engage in such behaviours. Secondary crime prevention is perfect for targeting non-traditional crimes as these prevention strategies can be applied to such criminal activities as 'computer crime' and implemented over larger bodies of potential threats, within a corporation.

Tertiary prevention, concentrates on the recidivism rate of criminals. The idea behind this is to reduce chances the victim is revictimised (Gill 2005). One of the primary methods of doing this is the incarceration of the offender or deterrence sentences, preventing further criminal activity, employment programs for released prisoners gives opportunities so criminal activity isn't first turned to as a method to support living (Gill 2005).

QUESTION 5

Identify:

Elements of neo-colonial policy in addressing indigenous and asylum seekers' victimisation and in crime prevention strategies applied by the Federal and state governments in Australia;

Invisible victims within these populations.

Initial neo-colonial policy of Australia addressed the indigenous Australians and asylum seekers' in means that were disgraceful and now outdated and seen as outrageous. Such policies of Assimilation to breed out aboriginals, White Australia putting limitations and restrictions on all "non-white" migrants and the resulting negative perspective created towards indigenous Australians and migrants by these policies by white Australians. Only since the 1970's has the position slowly started to changed and sought to reprieve Australia's position on these two groups. 1973 saw this abolishment of White Australia policy and then in 1975 saw the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 from this Australia has acknowledged that indigenous Australians and asylum seekers' are victims as a result of the prior indiscretions that have left them as disadvantaged members of society (NSW Government - Law Link & Attorney General 2005), this is more so with the indigenous than the asylum seekers'. To help indigenous communities such initiatives as intervention programs for modify cognitive behavioural patterns of offenders to rehabilitate into society (Queensland Corrective Services n.d), restorative justice and incorporating community elders and circle sentencing into the criminal justice system for a fair trial and outcome due to discriminatory perspectives predominate in 'white' society, such problems as deaths in custody have given reason for such programs into the system (NSW Government - Law Link & Attorney General 2005).

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QUESTION 8: (OPTIONAL)

Explain how restorative justice strategies can be used to address both victims' needs and as a crime prevention strategy. In your answer you can use one case study to support your arguments.

Victims of crime tend to have questions relating to why they were targeted, why someone would do what they did (motivation for offenders actions) and how does the offender feel about the incident. This is prevalent in victims of crime who have suffered from physical and/or a psychological injury. Restorative justice aims to give victims closure on their incident through a mediated encounter with their offender.

The Paintball Case, saw 15 year old Jorel shot in the face by a paintball gun while out with friends, this permanently blinded one eye and as a result affects the rest of her life and immediate family and friends. After the incident both offender (Justin) and jorel wanted to meet, Jorel stated "I'd like to talk to him to see how he really feels about it"(Cavanagh 2004 p.6) while Justin had evident and genuine remorse about the incident. A family group conference was held with a trained mediator between the offender, his family and probation officer and the victim, her family and friends. Four hours of discussion including how both parties were affected by the incident, victim and offender feelings and restorative strategies for Justin to enact, including educating others on the dangers of paintball guns, financial responsibility for damages done and pre-wrote letter of apology(Cavanagh 2004). This conference was recorded and used to lessen sentencing by the criminal justice system being seen as favourable in the eyes of the magistrate. The Jorel and her family were satisfied with the conferences results and felt unhappy towards Justin receiving jail time, even though it was greatly reduced.

Restorative justice strategies such as the one used in the Paintball case can be used as opportunities to incorporate reintegrative shaming. Being, the promoting and enforcing of society's standards as well as disapproval towards the offenders criminal activity by their significant others, including friends, family, peers, victims as well as authoritative figures (Foglia 1997). Studies have shown that informal sanctions have in many circumstances, particularly youth offenders been more of a deterrent or effectual threat (Tittle 1980). This is due to the particular way individuals perceive negative reactions from interpersonal relationships, and chances of re/committing an offence is reduced due to more care towards the perception from significant others of themselves.