Sociology

Lawbreakers vs Victims an Assessment



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When the public is given images of lawbreakers versus victims, the standard stock photos of a huge, dark, badly dressed person is juxtaposed against a victim who is helpless, light and generally female. There is also a cultural and racial bias that is astounding. Blond female victims and Hispanic or Black criminals is the standard.

But the truth about victimization is far more complex. Icons of the community can be the criminals. Their victims can be other icons of the community. The victim can be a lifelong criminal and the lawbreaker, the good person. The crime can be financial, organized, violent, quietly sadistic or personally motivated and vicious. The truth about crime is far more complex, and crosses boundaries of race, gender, age, economic and social standing, and profession.

The crime can be committed by a prominent physician who committed repeated acts of everything from illegal substance abuse, to patient molestation and gross malpractice. The victim can be a welfare patient who is also a neighborhood drug dealer, and also a blond, White female.

The only truism about the relationship between lawbreakers and victims, is that the lawbreaker committed a crime that had a victim, and the victim suffered in some way as the result of the crime. The rest is subject to interpretation by the reporting media, the community, the investigators, the prosecutors, the juries, and the courts to all forms of bias, interpretation and differences in the image as well as the resolution of the case.

Taking away the emotionalism and bias, the picture becomes clearer. In financial loss, the victim suffers from loss of their liquid cash, their savings, their investments or their income. In the case of job discrimination, the criminal is the employer and the employee suffers the loss of opportunity for hiring, advancement and promotion to higher paying jobs. In the case of absentee home robbery, the victim suffers the loss of possessions, money, and suffers property damage.

But more suffering goes on. The victim of job discrimination suffers stress, feelings of distrust of any employer, grief, and loss of career opportunities that last for life. The victim of the home robbery suffers the emotional damage of being personally violated, feeling unsafe and insecure, and lives in grief of having lost personal and meaningful possessions.

In cases of violence, the victim may have lasting emotional and physical injuries that can prevent them from ever living fully, maintaining significant relationships, or working again. There are medical and professional costs that must be paid by the victim. Relationships with family, friends, and other suffer, as trust in other humans is violated. There are emotional disorders that develop.

Worse, the victim who refuses to prosecute may do so under duress or threat of harm that lasts for life. The victim might be killed rather than allowed to remain a threat to the criminal or the criminal enterprise. When the victim serves as a witness, there is the harrowing experience, in many cases repeated over years after the crime, of having to confront the criminal, revisit the crime, be confronted by aggressive cross examination, and having to have their character, veracity and mental capacities challenged. There is the unlimited frustration and stress of having to participate in the subsequent prosecution before any closure or justice can be sought and obtained.

The victim is scrutinized by the press and judged by the public, which can be looking for the victim as contributor to their own suffering. In some stunning situations, horrific serial killers or criminals have fans and supporters. The defense attorney is committed by oath and law, as an officer of the court, to stage the most aggressive defense for their client. The judge has enormous leeway, but not an unsupervised leeway to allow some evidence and to reject other evidence; to steer the jury, and to do things that may be viewed as unjust and horribly biased in favor of the criminal.

And the victim has to deal with the "innocent until proven guilty" part of the laws of civilized nations, along with the bias, favoritism and support based on the criminal's power, connections, standing in the community, and wealth.

In summary, the relationship between victim and lawbreaker never ends, even when one or the other dies. The path to resolution, justice, closure and punishment may never be completely taken. And the consequences of the crime are lasting for the victim, while they may be transitory for the lawbreaker.



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