victim impact statementsby sm
Victim Impact can be overwhelming when you think about all the things you would like to say to someone who has harmed a loved one. It takes organizing your thoughts a bit, but really I think it is very cathartic and can be worth the time and suffering it takes to write one.
I had worked in the courts for 11 years as a court reporter and listened to many victim impact statements. The best ones came from the heart of the person reading it. Just let your feelings flow onto paper.
The post that I am attaching is one that I think is the most helpful that I've seen from a woman named Karen who worked with victims, and from my perspective listening to the victim impact in court, she was right in line with what you could include in yours.
Here's here summary:
"Hi T: Here is a summary of VIS's...hope it helps.
What is a Victim Impact Statement?
A Victim Impact Statement is simply an open letter to the judge describing how the crime hurt you and how the crime made you feel. This is your chance to be heard; so often times victims sit quietly on the sidelines without an opportunity to speak out of their pain, now is your chance to do so.
What is the purpose of the Victim Impact Statement?
A Victim Impact Statement is your chance to tell the court and the offender, in your own words, how the crime has affected or is still affecting you. The judge is required by law to consider your statement when sentencing the offender.
Does every victim have to write a Victim Impact Statement?
No. Writing a Victim Impact Statement is entirely your choice. You do not have to give a statement if you do not want to and you can also change your mind at any time before the sentencing.
Who can write a Victim Impact Statement
Any person who has suffered physically or emotionally as a result of a crime can complete a Victim Impact Statement.
In most cases, the victim of a crime writes the statement. In other cases, the statement is prepared by someone on behalf of the victim, for example, by the parent of a child victim, by a husband or wife or by a dependent or close relative of a victim who is unable to make the statement. If you are unsure if you are the right person to fill in the Victim Impact Statement, ask the prosecuting attorney. (In our case there were 4 primary victims, 4 parents, 3 sisters, a brother, and an aunt that gave a statement to the judge at sentencing.
By law, you may read your statement out loud in court at the time the offender is being sentenced but you are not required to do so. Special provisions can also be made for disabled, elderly and child victims. It is important however that a copy be made available to the judge prior to sentencing to allow him/her time to read its contents.
Can someone help me with my Victim Impact Statement?
There is help available; so dont worry if you find it difficult to write how the crime has affected you. The investigating officer or the Prosecuting Attorney will be able to direct you to someone in your community that will be able to help. Most prosecuting attorney offices have someone on staff that can help (Victim Witness Coordinator)
Here are a few suggestions:
Write a rough draft first. It's a good idea to review the statement with the Prosecuting Attorney or the Victim Witness Coordinator.
Avoid writing anything offensive or harassing about the accused.
Include details about how you and your family have been hurt as a result of the crime but do not write about how the crime happened.
Divide the impact statement into three categories: emotional, physical and financial.
About the emotional impact of the crime, write about any changes that have happened that you think are a result of the crime:
How has your life changed or the lives of those close to you?
What are some of the feelings you have been experiencing?
What are some of the reactions you have had to cope with? For example, trouble sleeping or eating, difficulty concentrating?
Has there been a change in how you feel about yourself since the crime?
Has there been a change in how you are able to relate to others like your friends, your parents or other family members?
Have you been talking to a doctor or a counselor to get support or help you cope?
About the physical impact, you may wish to write about how you were hurt or any medical problems you have as a result of the crime.
What are some of the physical injuries you or your family has suffered?
How long did the injuries take to heal or how long does the doctor say it will it take to heal the injury?
What medical treatment did you get or will you need in the future ?
How have the injuries changed your lifestyle such as going to school, work or playing sports?
About the financial impact, you may wish to write in your statement:
How the crime has affected you or your family's ability to work or the number of days you missed from work because of the crime.
If you have paid or owe money for bills because of the crime.
The cost of medical, dental, psychological treatment.
The costs of prescription medication or physiotherapy, etc.
Anything you include must be truthful, accurate and relevant to the crime of which the accused has been found guilty."
This is something I wrote to a person asking about VI and it is still relevant today:
"A favor to us all: Make sure to ask for the highest possible punishment within the range for the crime! We could all use your help keeping perps off the street and away from kids. If it's important to you also, let the judge know that you expect this. It's just natural for us to want the more severe punishment when our children are hurt, and believe me if it were his/her child they would expect the same. I know from experience that when people do this judges tend to think harder about giving the lighter sentence because they don't want to seem unsympathtic to this issue - people DON'T like molesters. So if punishment is something you'd like to see happen, make sure you let him know you want the highest possible punishment for the charge."
Good luck, Twinkle. You can do it!
Posted on Feb 21, 2011, 5:24 PM
from IP address 126.96.36.199
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- Thank you!. Deborah Primm, Apr 14, 2012, 1:43 PM