Victimology and Alternatives to the Criminal Justice System

Victimology and alternatives to the traditional criminal justice system
Jennifer Pavalinski
University Of Phoenix

Victimology and alternatives to the traditional criminal justice system
      The fathers of victimology were two German criminologists, Hans Von Hentig and Benjamin Mendelsohn (Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d., p. 1).   “They studied behaviors, characteristics, and vulnerabilities of crime victims.   In 1937, Mendolsohn proposed a theory that suggested victims of crime possessed certain characteristics that made them more susceptible to being victimized” (Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d.).
      This theory evolved as a result of the feminist movement.   “According to the United States Department of Justice, “feminist leaders viewed the poor response of the criminal justice system to sexual assaults and domestic violence as the cause of women’s lack of status, power, and influence” (Young & Stein, 2004, p. 1). Feminists believed it was no longer alright to blame the victim and derived a new definition that was focused on power imbalance, which the victim suffered harm because of a situation that was out of her control (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 2010, p. 1).   There were many support groups and organizations that were developed because of the feminist movement, such as the National Organization For Victim Assistance (NOVA) who dedicate their time helping victims in need.   Because of these organizations, some victims don’t necessarily feel like they are victims, instead, they may consider themselves survivors.
      As the meaning of victimology evolved, so did the treatment of victims by the criminal justice system.   “In the days when victimology blamed the victim, too often they were treated poorly by law enforcement and judicial officials.” (Young & Stein, 2004, p. 1)   Criminal Justice officials saw the need for change when a U.S. Department of Justice study done in 1974 revealed, “the biggest failure in criminal prosecuting came because...