Centering Victims in Criminal Justice: Philosophical and Legal Perspectives

Conference Panel

  • Datum: 15.09.2023
  • Uhrzeit: 16:00 - 18:00 (Tokio UTC+09:00)
  • Panel organized by: Otto Hahn Research Group on Alternative and Informal Systems of Crime Control and Criminal Justice (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law)
  • Ort: Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto/Japan
  • Gastgeber: AIDP Young Penalists Committee
Centering Victims in Criminal Justice: Philosophical and Legal Perspectives
– Within the framework of the 11th International Association of Penal Law (AIDP) Young Penalists Symposium on Victim-Centered Criminal Justice –

Panel Description

The role of victims in the criminal justice system and the opportuni­ties and challenges of a more inclusive and victim-centered approach to justice are of paramount significance for legal studies and criminal law theory. The Max Planck Panel on “Centering Victims in Criminal Justice: Philosophical and Legal Perspectives” explores various in­ter­connected and conflicting aspects of such an approach.

Our discussions begin with a critique of the attempt to justify criminal punishment based on the moral status of the vic­tim. The exploration of retributive and conventional arguments exposes the limitations in using the moral status of vic­tims as a foundational premise for criminal punishment. While these arguments offer an insight, they also prompt an evaluation of their effectiveness in grounding the practice of criminal punishment.

Subsequently, we examine the concept of a victim-centered approach within a republican theory of criminal justice. This approach reimagines the foundations of punishment by emphasizing the centrality of victims and their interests. By highlighting the potential for a penal system that attends to both victims’ needs and the inherent complexities of punishment, existing paradigms are challenged.

As we delve into practical implications, our focus transitions to issues of sentencing rationalization through a victim-centered perspective. The exploration of a structured evaluative framework presents the idea of gauging the gravity of offenses based on the degree of impairment of a victim’s quality of life. The incorporation of computer-aided decision support systems offers a novel avenue for transparent and equitable sentencing practices in line with the principles of victim-centered justice.

Concluding with a gender perspective, we explore the potential of restorative justice methods in addressing gender-based violence. By critically addressing the adoption of these methods, the discussions will shed light on the transform­a­tive potential of centering survivors/victims, addressing power dynamics, and challenging conventional punitive pro­cesses. The analysis resonates with broader societal imperatives for change and calls for a comprehensive reevaluation of justice mechanisms.

The panel’s objective is to give speakers and discussants the opportunity to collectively traverse the nuanced terrain of a victim-centered justice. From philosophical musings on the victims’ rights and moral status to legal and practical con­sid­er­a­tions about structured evaluative frameworks and restorative justice methodologies, the presentations aim to offer a comprehensive perspective on the evolving role of victims in the criminal law landscape. We endeavor to ignite a discourse that challenges existing norms, fostering an inclusive and transparent vision for the future of criminal justice.

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