You might think that victims of crime are in favor of longer sentences and prison expansion for offenders, but that’s not the case. According to the Illinois Crime Victims’ Voices Report published by the Alliance for Safety and Justice, the majority of victims want a more balance approach to public safety, calling for shorter prison sentences and more money to be spent on prevention, education, rehabilitation and trauma recovery.
The ASJ report suggests that 7 in 10 victims support an approach more aimed at preventing recidivism and helping victims get the post-incident support they need over a system that harshly punishes offenders by putting more people in prison for longer periods of time. Another key finding from the report suggests nearly 75 percent of victims believe that time in prison makes people more likely to commit another crime rather than less likely to commit another crime, regardless of offender demographic.
Crime Victim Responses
Here’s a quick look at some more findings from the report:
- 9 in 10 crime victims in Illinois would rather see more money spent on schools and education than in prisons and jails.
- The vast majority of victims prefer offender rehabilitation and mental health and drug treatments over spending more on prisons and jails.
- 7 in 10 report at least one symptom of trauma as a result of their incident, but many feel that there aren’t enough resources out there for victims to seek to get the care they need after a crime.
- In Illinois, 27 percent of crime victims reported feeling “not supported at all” by the criminal justice system, while only 10 percent reported feeling “very supported.”
- 75 percent of victims support reviewing inmate sentences if laws change the lowers sentencing guidelines for the crime.
This is an interesting publication, and it really shines a light on what those who have gone through the criminal system on the victim’s side of the courtroom want to happen. It may seem surprisingly that victims want more money spent on preventing crime and recidivism than on keeping offenders locked up longer, but at the end of the day the goal is to help people get the care they need, be it mental health treatment, drug treatment or job placement, to not need to resort to criminal activities. The report also suggests not enough is being done to help victims get the support they need after a crime, which is a shame.
Hopefully this report opens some eyes and can lead to changes in the not-to-distant future.