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.
Expressing fear for your personal safety and the right to be reasonably protected is one of your State Constitutional rights, currently active in 33 states, under the Federal Statute enacted in October 2004 by the Reagan Administration.
But, what does it really mean to be reasonably protected? According to the Crime Victim’s Act of 2004:
2.11 Release or Detention Pending Sentence or Appeal
If there is an issue whether the defendant may be released pending sentencing or appeal, victims must be notified of the hearing and provided an opportunity to be heard. As noted earlier, section 3771(a)(1) provides that crime victims have the right “to be reasonably protected from the accused.” Under Fed. R. Crim. P. 46, the defendant has the burden of establishing that he or she does not “pose a danger to any other person or to the community.”
An educated guess concerning not posing a danger after many years of incarceration, no matter the number of crimes or how heinous the crimes may have been, might be house arrest, wearing a GPS device, being employed under constant supervision, and probation. However, reality tells us that probation is overburdened, GPS technology fails, and there are not enough staff to adequately monitor prisoners when on the outside.
What are the provisions made for surviving victims who are elderly, medically challenged, or victims who happen to be disabled? Will the system provide real protection other than the usual bureaucratic responses?
In my personal case, I do not feel confident. I do not feel secure in the knowledge that the person who murdered my father will necessarily leave us in peace. Rest assured that I will not quit until I know what reasonably protected truly means in practical terms. In the final analysis, the Pardon and Parole Board or the Court’s decision is just another decision in just another workday for most hearing officers, with nothing to differentiate them.
For those with able bodies and minds, I offer our natural resources as an option, if and when personal terror invades.
The fight or flight response is a physiological response to acute stress when an imminent threat is present, real or perceived, either physically or mentally. This occurs naturally by triggering hormones which prepare your body to stay and deal with the threat effectively or flee from the situation. The manner in which this occurs includes the triggering of chemicals from your adrenal glands resulting in increased heart rate, breathing for increased energy, blood rushing to your brain and extremities and trembling due to muscular tension.
Whether your brain and body choses flight or fight at the crucial moment to protect, I can’t say. As for me, I can’t flee effectively, so I’ll have to depend upon my intellect to save me, which is what I have always done.
Within the context of your Victim Impact Statement you should relay your fears, as well as whether your current conditions to be reasonably protected are favorable to the decisions to be made by the court. Express your expectations on what reasonably protected means to you and your family.
For more tips on victim impact statements:
If you need assistance with writing a professional Victim Impact Statement, please refer to the Victim Impact Statement FAQ’s on this site.
To schedule a presentation with me at your future event or conference please contact:
ImaginePublicity, Telephone: 843.808.0859 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org