CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Erez on Victims as Consumers

Edna Erez (University of Illinois at Chicago) has posted From Cinderella to Consumer: How Crime Victims Can Go to the Ball (pp. 321-357 In: Tapley J., Davies P. (eds) Victimology. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2020) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This chapter traces the changing role of victims in an adversarial criminal justice system. Adopting a historical perspective, the authors examine the impact of victim-centered reforms aimed at improving victim participation in a criminal process not designed to accommodate them. The chapter considers why these reforms have not fully realized their intended objectives and examines alternative ways in which the interests of victims can be integrated within a system of criminal justice. The authors contend that in the digital age, re-conceptualizing victims as ‘consumers’ of criminal justice services could yet provide a metaphoric shift in thinking, allowing victims to be better integrated into the system. Pointing towards other areas of public and private service delivery as illustrative, they maintain that a new consumerist perspective has made organisations more respectful, accountable and responsive to the needs of their increasingly empowered ‘customers’. They suggest that, at the very least, a ‘customer focus’ approach, including the use of ‘customer satisfaction surveys’, and ‘user-centered design’ approaches will make victims’ experiences more central, as well as enhance accountability for the way they are treated. The authors suggest that revisiting a consumerist approach could still address the crisis of trust in criminal justice systems, which are falling short of changing public expectations about the need for greater transparency, accountability and community engagement.

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