Protection, Punishment, and the Victims Rights Movement

Source: 8/9/23

In 2018, 156 accusers of Larry Nasser, the former team doctor for USA Gymnastics Team who molested them over and over again during medical appointments, testified at his sentencing hearing about their experiences and the damage done to their lives as a result of his abuse. Their emotional and personal stories helped in sentencing him to between 40 and 175 years in prison.

In February of 2023, the testimonies of family members and friends of the victims killed by Sayfullo Saipov, a terrorist convicted of running over and killing eight people in New York City, helped decide if he deserved the death penalty or life behind bars.

Meanwhile, states like New York, Illinois, Nevada, and California have extended their statute of limitations on a wide range of sex crimes that expand the window for survivors to take legal action against their attackers and receive justice.

All of these instances are fruits of the victims’ rights movement, a powerful political force whose work has resulted in the passing of 32,000 laws explicitly in the name of victims since the 1980s.

However, while the idea of more rights for victims may seem like an obvious and right pursuit when we think about terrible crimes such as rape, sexual assault, and mass-murder, Michael Vitiello, author of The Victims’ Rights Movement: What It Gets Right, What It Gets Wrong, argues that the movement itself has done far more harm than good for everyone involved.

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Well I’ll never support a movement like that. “All the power to the victims, none for the accused”. That’s vindictive 90’s nonsense. We need to move to the restorative justice model.

I was 23-24 years old when I committed my sex offenses, so I qualified and fit the youth offender criteria at my Parole Board Hearing. At first, the new law excluded sex offenders from meeting the youth offender criteria. Is anything being done in providing leniency for those of us who are sex offenders and youth offenders as it relates to parole and tier registry?