“Victim’s” Rights? – Editorial

I just read an article on the South Dakota House of Representatives giving "victims" the right to have input on clemency hearings, just as they have the right to have input on parole hearings.

In my opinion, this is another of those attempts by politicians to pander to the right wing voters. The rallying cry of:

"Tough on Crime

All the Time

4 More Years"

is implicit in so many laws that it is ridiculous.

Admittedly, I might feel different if i was one of the families that had been victimized by a violent crime and I would be more sympathetic if the legislation were enacted toward that type of situation, but to make a law that just allows anyone classified as a victim to have an input after trial is unfair, particularly when the prisoner really is in no position to effectively counter it.

Implicitly, the "victim" has had their chance to have an input on what occurred in the crime during the trial/plea process and their input helped shape the sentence. However, parole and clemency issues should deal less with the impact of the specific crime (although the facts are certainly still a viable part of the process) and more with how the offender has reacted while in prison and while attempting to rehabilitate.

Just my opinion, but the feelings of the "victim" have no place in determining what changes have occurred to a person while being punished.

And how many innocent people have we now seen freed from prison due to DNA evidence, and how many more innocent ones remain there when there is no DNA evidence available to free them?

Take politics out of the criminal justice system.

About the Author

Lawyer X
Lawyer X is the pen name of a former attorney who now spends all of his time writing and consulting. While in practice he was involved in both criminal and civil trials across the United States, including picking or helping to pick juries in hundreds of civil and criminal cases. In addition to his work as a trial lawyer, Lawyer X wrote articles, lectured at continuing legal education seminars, and was active in the legal community in many ways. He maintains anonymity now so that he can provide knowledge from inside and express honest opinions and viewpoints that other members of the legal community would just as soon weren't shared.