Violent-crime survivors have powerful stories to tell. Prosecutors use these stories to convict the accused and advocate for harsh sentences. Legislators use these narratives to pass punitive sentencing measures locking away the convicted for increasing periods of time.
Though prosecutors and legislators serve the entire community, many present themselves as speaking for victims, particularly those who call themselves "tough on crime." But do the interests of those who advocate for punitive, retributive justice always align with those of crime victims? And when their respective interests diverge, is it exploitative for prosecutors and legislators to suggest that they represent the interests of all victims?
This Article explores the exploitation of crime survivors and how progressive criminal justice reformers can partner with them to reclaim their voices. Part I defines exploitation as used in this Article and provides examples of the concept. Part II uses narrative storytelling to discuss the difficulty in identifying true instances of victim exploitation. I contrast the experience of one crime survivor after she recanted her testimony against my client with what I believe to be a clearer instance of victim exploitation: the passage of New Jersey's Megan's Law just one month after Megan Kanka's brutal murder, and specifically, the role played by New Jersey's Speaker of the House as he prepared to run for the United States Senate. Part III concludes by providing two recent examples of crime survivors' joining with criminal justice reformers to achieve progressive change.
Singleton, David A.
"Disrupting Victim Exploitation,"
Mercer Law Review: Vol. 69:
3, Article 10.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol69/iss3/10