This is a series of articles on the importance of the Victim Impact Statement including tips that I have gathered over the years from my personal experience as a homicide survivor, from others, and from those I have been able to assist in writing this critical document.
As a new crime victim, an affiliation that was never imagined or requested, you are thrust into the world of the unknown. If you are fortunate enough to have arrived on this stage of victim impact delivery at a trial sentencing, as opposed to plea deals, you have arrived at the most important point in your journey for justice. Your voice is finally allowed to be counted. The real world of criminal justice is a bitter pill to swallow. Justice is never swift nor fair, especially concerning sentencing.
When you begin to prepare your victim impact statement, you want to convey the journey and the overall toll it has taken from many perspectives; emotionally, psychologically, physically, financially, the overview of your current situation. Projecting into the future, express your wishes regarding the disposition of the perpetrator and any changes to the system which negatively impacted and/or re-victimized you or, alternately, your satisfaction with how you were treated.
Familiarizing the Deciding Body with the Victim
The judge or parole hearing officers may have a pre-sentence report, but that report may contain very little information about who your loved one was, the way they lived their life and what they meant to you, as opposed to only being the victim of the crime.
It is imperative that you provide a complete portrayal of your loved one both visually with pictures, and with the words of your Victim Impact Statement, as this may be your only opportunity for several years until the point of your initial court or parole appearance, or until you obtain future opportunity to address the court or parole board.
Talk about who your loved one was beyond the crime; their assets, talents, what they contributed to the family and to others, and their aspirations for the future that were taken away. You can acknowledge that the victim may have had flaws, as we all do, however, the account should stress their past positive activities.
Watch for more information in future articles of Victim Impact Statement: Tips for Homicide Survivors
If you need assistance with writing a professional Victim Impact Statement, please refer to the Victim Impact Statement FAQ’s on this site.
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