A couple weeks later, police still can't find the victim to get a formal, written statement about what happened. To get that statement, police have repeatedly visited the victim's home and left phone messages for him. So far, they haven't heard back."We are talking about putting people in prison for a long time and the County Attorney has certain standards," explained Fossum. Police said what happened in this case is too common in other shooting cases. Cooperative victims sometimes have a change of heart. Others prefer their own form of violent "street justice".This story caught my eye for several reasons. While this story focused on gun crimes in the most dangerous parts of Minneapolis, the issues are similar to the ones police encounter in domestic violence. In both cases, the puzzlement comes from seeing only certain parts of the situation.
As with the woman who has been attacked by her husband or another man in her life, a victim who cooperates with the police is taking great risks. The person under investigation has already demonstrated the willingness to use violence or the threat of violence to control others.
If the police or the criminal justice system fails, it's the victim who will most likely pay the price.
That means the police and the entire criminal justice system have to prove that the system is the best option for victims. It also means that the criminal justice system needs to look at how to keep victims who cooperate safe if or when the person charged with a crime is allowed out on bail.
Another element in understanding the full dynamics at play is the victim's daily life and how cooperating will disrupt that.
What might look to the police as the victim choosing danger or abuse over safety may be much more complicated in reality. Changing that basic reality is where many prevention programs make a positive impact on the level of crime. Unfortunately, prevention programs are often seen as an expensive luxury when they can be cheaper than purely reactive systems.
And of course there are the times when victims who cooperate with police find themselves treated like criminals but without any of the legal rights given to those accused of a crime.
Technorati tags: rape crime politics sexual violence sexual assault feminism