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Wraak, recht en slachtofferbehoeften

Tijdschrift Tijdschrift voor Herstelrecht, Aflevering 3 2012
Trefwoorden revenge, retributive emotions, victim impact statements, victim needs, penal populism
Auteurs Bas van Stokkom
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Considerable political pressure is currently being brought to impose severe punishments, and it is frequently suggested that these punishments would enhance the wellbeing of victims and achieve ‘closure’. Populist images, such as ‘victims have a right to revenge’ have gained great influence. To what extent would therapeutic professionals have to support victim needs that are shaped within such punitive contexts? In this paper it is first argued that revenge embraces ambivalent meanings. Although avengers are lauded in the popular imagination, feelings of revenge are still viewed as ethically unacceptable. In recent decades, however, a penal populism has been gaining ground as a result of which revenge was stripped of its pejorative associations. In a punitive climate it is believed that victims would demand harsher penalties and that such penalties would promote closure and peace. Research findings show however that revenge may bring temporary relief, but anger rumination precludes healing. Subsequently the question is discussed whether two different forms of victim participation, victim impact statements and restorative justice conferences, might temper revenge feelings. Because VIS-participants (dealing with high levels of anger and fear) believe that their statements will culminate in longer sentences, they are generally frustrated that the imposed sentence is not tough enough. After the procedure they keep on viewing the offender as a malign person. Restorative procedures generally show an opposite picture. Finally this paper is criticizing the tendency of victim-oriented therapeutization within criminal justice and restorative justice. It is argued that the voice of the victim and the process of emotional healing should be separated strictly.


Bas van Stokkom
Bas van Stokkom is verbonden aan de afdeling bestuurswetenschappen van de faculteit der sociale wetenschappen van de Vrije Universiteit te Amsterdam. Daarnaast is hij verbonden aan het Criminologisch Instituut (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen). Hij verricht onderzoek op het grensvlak van ethiek, criminologie en de sociale wetenschappen. Tot de thema’s die in zijn onderzoek aan bod komen behoren politie, burgerschap en lokale veiligheidszorg, sanctietheorieën en herstelrecht. www.basvanstokkom.nl.
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