Date of Award

1994

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Brian Thomas-Peter

Abstract

This study examines the perceptions of victims and non-victims towards legal procedures which provide a hypothetical victim of property crime varying opportunities to actively participate in the justice process. Some of the variations of victim participation in the procedures examined are comparable to opportunities for victim participation in the procedure victim offender mediation. Other variations represent court procedures In which participation in the justice process by victims of crime is not required. In an experimental scenario study, the first part of this study examines perceptions of fairness of different variations of victim participation in the justice process. The second part of this study assesses the amount of additional punishment (imprisonment and fines) allocated to a hypothetical offender who was described as having to pay a hypothetical victim a specified restitution amount. The variations or levels of victim participation were operationalised according to Thibaut and Walker's (1975) concepts of process control and decision control, from their theory of procedural justice. Process control was defined as the opportunity for a hypothetical victim of crime to express their views to a hypothetical offender during the justice process, and decision control was defined as the opportunity for a hypothetical victim to decide an amount of restitution that a hypothetical offender was required to pay to compensate for the crime. Thirty five, male, university students, aged 17-49 years (M = 21.2 years), and 86 female, university students, aged 17-42 years (M = 23.7 years), (N. =121), were administered a questionnaire which contained eight scenarios describing a hypothetical property offence/offender, and legal procedures which presented varied opportunities for victim process control and victim decision control. Prior to data analyses, respondents were categorised into four groups based on their reported victimization .experiences. There were 24 victims of house break-ins, 29 victims of crimes other than house break-ins, 27 victims of both house break-Ins and other crimes, and 41 non-victims of crime. No directional hypotheses tor the groups were predicted however, hypotheses were made concerning the within-subjects factors pending no significant interactions between the groups and within-subjects factors. Using a split plot design, repeated measures analyses of variance (ANOVA) were used to examine the three dependent variables, individually. For the first part of the study, the three victim groups and one non-victim group were assessed for perceptions of fairness towards four variations of victim participation; victim process control, victim decision control, victim process and decision control, and no victim control. Data analyses indicated no significant Interactions, however a significant main effect was found for the within-subjects factor, victim participation. Initial post hoc comparisons showed that the procedure in which the hypothetical victim was provided both process and decision control was perceived as more fair than the procedure which completely excluded the victim from the justice process. Further comparisons revealed that the procedure in which the victim was only able to express their opinion to the offender was perceived as more fair than the procedure In which the victim could only decide the offenders restitution. For the second part of the study, the same groups were examined to determine whether the allocation of additional punishment for a hypothetical offender was influenced by the hypothetical victim's opportunity to participate in the justice process and/or by a specified restitution amount. For the dependent variable fines, data analysis revealed a significant Interaction between the within-subjects factors, victim participation and restitution. Post hoc comparisons, with Scheffe correction, Indicated that the amount of fines allocated to the victim offender mediation procedure were consistent, regardless of the amount of restitution specified. The amount of fines allocated to the victim offender mediation procedure were significantly lower than the amount of fines allocated to the court procedure with $250 restitution, but not significantly higher than the court procedure with $500 restitution. The latter procedure was allocated the lowest level of fines. For the dependent variable imprisonment, data analysis indicated a significant interaction between the groups and restitution ($250; $500). Post hoc comparisons with Scheffe correction, showed that the interaction was only significant for the $250 restitution amount. Further comparisons indicated there were significant differences in the amount of Imprisonment allocated between the groups; victims of other crimes other than house break-Ins, and victims of both house break-ins and other crimes, for the within-subjects factor, restitution, especially for the lower restitution amount of $250. This study has implications for the extent to which the opportunity for victim participation in the justice process, through victim offender mediation, is seen as fair by both victims and non-victims, and the effects of victim participation In the justice process and restitution, on the punishment of property offenders.

Share

 
COinS