What is it about?

We explored victim impact statements and judicial decision-making in Canadian sentencings. We coded and analyzed sentencing decisions from 1,332 cases across the country to explore factors associated with the likelihood of statement submission, and the relationship between these statements and sentencing outcomes for offenders (e.g., length of time they are sentenced to jail)

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Why is it important?

Cases with 'severe' crimes (like homicide or sexual assault) were associated with a greater likelihood of VIS submission than cases with crimes like theft. In cases where a victim impact statement was present, sentences were not always longer. Yet, judges tended to impose longer sentences when more than one victim impact statement was submitted or when statements were read aloud in court.


We believe this paper has important implications for victims of crime who are trying to decide whether submitting a victim impact statement is the right option for them, and for legal representatives who are interested in the role of these statements in decisions.

Gena K. Dufour
University of Windsor

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The relationship between victim impact statements and judicial decision making: An archival analysis of sentencing outcomes., Law and Human Behavior, June 2023, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/lhb0000535.
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