Special Issue "Access to Justice: Historical Approaches to Victims of Crime"

A special issue of Societies (ISSN 2075-4698).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2019)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Pamela Cox

Department of Sociology, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ, UK
Website | E-Mail
Interests: modern social and cultural history; social policy; social justice and criminal justice; gender relations; youth justice; child rights; family law
Guest Editor
Prof. Barry Godfrey

Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology, The University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3BX, UK
Website | E-Mail
Interests: longitudinal studies of crime and sentencing; how individual and structural factors can affect desistence from crime; comparative international studies of offending and sentencing; court culture and practice; the history of Liverpool; and convicts in America and Australia

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Victims were central to the detection and prosecution of crime for most of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Indeed, if it was not for the substantial activity of victims there would be little recorded crime at all before the 1830s. In many countries, newly formed police forces then took the lead in the prosecution process until their role was, in turn, supplanted by professional lawyers and state prosecution services. Despite their ‘removal’ from the courtroom, victims have remained important agents in the justice system. Today they are frequently evoked and re-imagined within media and political debates, becoming symbolic ciphers for concerns about crime and other perceived social challenges. This collection seeks contributors who will address one of three major research questions:

How has victims’ access to justice been facilitated or restricted over the past two centuries? How, and to what end, have cultural representations shaped perceptions of victims? How, why and when did victims come to shape political and criminal justice discourse and practice? Additionally, the related topics may include: Child sexual abuse victims; domestic violence victims; access to justice for victims; history of victim support; symbolic and ideal victims of crime; victims and fear of crime; victims and media representations; and victims in literature.

Prof. Pamela Cox
Prof. Barry Godfrey
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Societies is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charges (APCs) of 350 CHF (Swiss Francs) per published paper are partially funded by institutions through Knowledge Unlatched for a limited number of papers per year. Please contact the editorial office before submission to check whether KU waivers, or discounts are still available. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Victims as Prosecutors: England 1800–1835
Societies 2019, 9(2), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9020031
Received: 26 February 2019 / Revised: 8 April 2019 / Accepted: 17 April 2019 / Published: 24 April 2019
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Abstract
This paper examines the role of the victim through the prism of prosecutor in the first third of the nineteenth century when England did not have a public prosecutor or national police force and most crimes were prosecuted in the courts by the [...] Read more.
This paper examines the role of the victim through the prism of prosecutor in the first third of the nineteenth century when England did not have a public prosecutor or national police force and most crimes were prosecuted in the courts by the victim. The selection of cases is drawn from a larger investigation of female offenders punished by transportation to New South Wales, Australia. The cases demonstrate the diversity of victims, the power they held as prosecutors and highlight the process from apprehension to conviction. Historical records of regional English Assizes and Sessions were investigated to identify the victim and record the prosecution process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Access to Justice: Historical Approaches to Victims of Crime)
Open AccessArticle Victims, Criminal Justice and State Compensation
Societies 2019, 9(2), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9020029
Received: 22 February 2019 / Revised: 25 March 2019 / Accepted: 17 April 2019 / Published: 24 April 2019
PDF Full-text (559 KB)
Abstract
This article examines one element of the state’s responses to crime: the provision of a taxpayer-funded compensation scheme for victims of personal and sexual violence. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012 sits within a political context that seeks to ensure that victims of [...] Read more.
This article examines one element of the state’s responses to crime: the provision of a taxpayer-funded compensation scheme for victims of personal and sexual violence. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012 sits within a political context that seeks to ensure that victims of crime are better served by the criminal justice system of England and Wales, the jurisdiction that is the focus of this article. The government’s fundamental policy is that this scheme exists to compensate only those victims who are ‘blameless’, either in terms of their character, criminal record, conduct at the time of the incident, or in their engagement with the criminal justice agencies. It is a policy that illuminates elements of two of the questions that the editors posed for this Special Issue of Societies. Reviewing the increased urgency in government policies concerning the treatment of victims of crime, the first section addresses the question of how, why and when victims came to shape political and criminal justice discourse and practice. The question of how, and to what end, cultural representations have shaped perceptions of victims is addressed in the second and third sections, which examine the notion of victim status and illustrate the ways in which eligible (‘ideal’) victims are perceived and their claims under this scheme are determined. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Access to Justice: Historical Approaches to Victims of Crime)
Open AccessArticle ‘A Poor Prospect Indeed’: The State’s Disavowal of Child Abuse Victims in Youth Custody, 1960–1990
Societies 2019, 9(2), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9020027
Received: 21 February 2019 / Revised: 27 March 2019 / Accepted: 2 April 2019 / Published: 18 April 2019
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Abstract
Child abuse in youth custody in England and Wales is receiving an unprecedented degree of official attention. Historic allegations of abuse by staff in custodial institutions which held children are now being heard by the courts and by the Independent Inquiry into Child [...] Read more.
Child abuse in youth custody in England and Wales is receiving an unprecedented degree of official attention. Historic allegations of abuse by staff in custodial institutions which held children are now being heard by the courts and by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), and some criminal trials have resulted in convictions. A persistent question prompted by these investigations is that of why the victims of custodial child abuse were for so long denied recognition as such, or any form of redress. Drawing on original documentary research, this article aims to explain why and how state authorities in England and Wales failed to recognise the victimisation of children held in penal institutions between 1960 and 1990, and argues that this failure constitutes a disavowal of the state’s responsibility. We show that the victims of custodial child abuse were the victims of state crimes by omission, because the state failed to recognise or to uphold a duty of care. We argue further that this was possible because the occupational cultures and custodial practices of penal institutions failed to recognise the structural and agentic vulnerabilities of children. Adult staff were granted enormous discretionary power which entitled them to act (and to define their actions) without effective constraint. These findings, we suggest, have implications for how custodial institutions for children should think about the kinds of abuse which are manifest today. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Access to Justice: Historical Approaches to Victims of Crime)

Other

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Open AccessEssay Integration of African Customary Legal Concepts into Modern Law: Restorative Justice: A Kenyan Example
Societies 2019, 9(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9010017
Received: 18 January 2019 / Revised: 15 February 2019 / Accepted: 26 February 2019 / Published: 4 March 2019
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Abstract
African societies have been governed according to known norms, customs, and practices that together constitute African customary law. These societies have placed emphasis on communal as opposed to individual identity, and this has extended to their justice systems. African customary law therefore has [...] Read more.
African societies have been governed according to known norms, customs, and practices that together constitute African customary law. These societies have placed emphasis on communal as opposed to individual identity, and this has extended to their justice systems. African customary law therefore has placed emphasis on the concept of restorative justice based on the understanding of restoring the societal balance that has been disrupted by crime. This has fostered offender accountability, reparation to the victim, and full participation by the affected community members. This essay examines the resurgence of African legal philosophy and its subsequent integration into modern African formal legal systems. In particular, it interrogates the recent Kenyan example of integrating traditional dispute resolution mechanisms as one of the guiding principles for the exercise of judicial authority by Kenyan courts under the 2010 Constitution. It argues for the development of structures to properly utilize such mechanisms within the Kenyan context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Access to Justice: Historical Approaches to Victims of Crime)
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