Much like most Australian jurisdictions, the Texan systems, as well as those of most states in America have started embracing the idea of victim compensation. Apparently, there are so many arguments for victim compensation by the government. Worth noting is the fact that, by government compensation, it does not necessarily mean that the government has to spend taxpayers monies to compensate the victims. Rather, it means that the government can or should facilitate the acquisition of monetary reimbursement by the victim from the offender. The rationale and philosophy behind victim compensation, according to the proponents of the same, is the fact that the victims of crime and other social circumstances are, in actual sense, victims of the social system. Research indicates that, in the criminal justice system, the offender receives better treatment than the victim. This paper explains two solid reasons as to why victims should be entitled to state compensation.
The first apparent reason cited by Doerner & Lab (2012) is the fact that compensation by the government is the first way of reinstating the victims to their original financial position. Such compensatory efforts, commonly referred to as indemnity within legal circles, help the victims overcome such things as financial loss, trauma, mental stress and physical injuries, as well as physical pain. Doerner & Lab (2012) point out that the usual litigation process does not take care of the victim. Ironically, the criminal justice system affords the offender better treatment. Worth noting is the point that, as is the norm, the state spends more resources on the criminals and exceedingly little, if any at all, on the victims. Upon arrest and prosecution, the criminal is usually assigned a court appointed counsel, who assists the individual throughout the litigation process. Additionally, the criminal suspect is given the right to a preliminary hearing and fair trial before the citizenry.
More to the unfairness of the system, the criminal suspect enjoys the status “innocent until proven guilty”. This way the law protects the criminal while the victim has no authority to listen to their pain and lamentations. Additionally, the criminal is given additional protection in the form of appeals. Chances have it that the criminal could be given such soft treatment as rehabilitation or probation, after which they are put on work release program. From this explanation, therefore, it is clear to see that the system is inclined to the side of the criminal. At this point, the second reason as to why the government should compensate victims becomes apparent. The reason here is that it is through such compensation that social justice can be achieved. According to Siegel (2010), social justice can only be achieved in the social system if the criminal suspect and the victim are subjected to similar circumstances and contextual rights.
Siegel (2010) further argues that in making such compensation effective, the government should consider the criminal-victim relationship. This way, the criminal justice system will be in a position to give room for ethical considerations, as well as such theories as moral relativism. This is particularly the case if it coincidentally occurs that the offender and the victim are spouses or some kind of partners. Moral relativism is a theory that contextualizes the definitions of that which is right or wrong. Siegel (2010) and Doerner & Lab (2012) have argued that, apart from achieving social justice and reimbursing the victims, compensatory moves will reduce crime in society. This is especially so, in the case where the government makes the criminals cater for the reimbursement expenses. Compensation where the criminal is involved is equal to punishment and retribution.
Doerner, W. G., & Lab, S. P. (2012). Victimology (6th Ed.). Burlington, Ma: Elsevier, Inc.
Siegel, L. J. (2010). Introduction to criminal justice. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.